Simulate me

Simone - or S1m0ne - or even "Simulation One" (should I be proud of figuring that one out from just the previews?) - is a construction of this guy named Hank, some kind of computer whiz who is killed off quickly in the script so we don't have to tie up any ugly complications with him later on.

Simone ends up in the hands of down-on-his-luck director Viktor Taransky (Al Pacino), whose lead actress has just bailed on him, threatening to sue if a single frame of the movie contains her likeness. Well, this is exactly what Simone was designed for. Viktor finishes his movie in a virtual fashion, and releases it to tremendous popular appeal with no one the wiser - even his ex-wife (Catherine Keener) who heads the studio.

Of course, Simone is much sought after, and since - not being real, you know - she makes no appearances, the demand becomes even greater. The movie portrays this as some giant feedback loop. Even when Viktor tries to sabotage his own creation's popularity, it's seen as quirkiness and makes it all that much more crazy.

I have to say I was convinced for the first two-thirds of the film that Simone was going to come alive at some point. When I finally realized it wasn't going to happen, I was able to relax and finally enjoy what I was watching. Without that distraction, I'd be able to rate this film higher, but it was a problem. I've considered that it might just be in what I took into the picture with me - after all, if I was right about "Simulation One", wouldn't the rest of my preconceived notions be right too? But, no, that's not the whole story. To a degree, the problem lies in that the "machine intelligence" card has been played an awful lot out there - it opens way too many story possibilities around morality and technology for it not to happen. I can forgive a movie my own preconceptions, but the thing is - the movie seems to go out of its way to encourage them. Time after time we see Simone showing what seems to be her own behavior, only to then see Viktor as the one behind it. I'm sorry, but there's only so many times you can suggest a possibility without having to deliver. Perhaps, just perhaps, I'm in the minority in picking this up, but it would have been too easy to not suggest she was going to come alive.

With that bit out of the way, I did real enjoy the movie. It goes overboard in a few ways, but it is, after all, a comedy. Either Al Pacino naturally tends toward being an obsessive off-kilter sort who can talk to himself a lot, or he's a tremendous actor. Keener is good, but seems to have chosen the role for lifting her visibility rather than for its artistic merits.

As for Simone - which the movie purports at all levels as being truly a generated actor - I don't believe it. She's largely an image, yes, but the differences between her acting performances and what I'll call her "screensaver mode" are too great - there's a real person there. In any case, she is purely a construct and is treated as such by the movie - there's not too much to actually go on.

The ending is both cheap and easy, but we aren't led to expect much else from the film. I'm mixed about the final scene, which is clever, but perhaps too clever.

All in all, Simone is a fun little movie that, but for a few poor choices, could have been a really good fun little movie.

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