Victor Taransky is having a bad day... week... life. A depressed visionary film director who can't compete with hype and egotism and whose obsession with his own artistic integrity has lead his career down a dead-end street, Taransky, with his career on the ropes, is contacted by a man offering salvation in the form of the perfect actor - a computer generated woman named S1m0n3. Simone's success propels Taransky's career into the limelight, permitting him to simultaneously lampoon all that he has come to despise in Hollywood and to vicariously gain acceptance in it for himself. Taransky's invented discovery successfully brings a few of his most cherished cinematic visions to the screen and eventually overshadows him completely. Yet Taransky finds himself even less happy, more lonely, and less satisfied than he was before Simone. Taransky discovers that he, in fact, has an ego of his own, and also discovers that success is meaningless without his estranged wife and daughter. Since admitting Simone was never real would jeopardize his own integrity, he embarks on a campaign to destroy his own creation. Winona Rider is typically superb in her relatively brief role, and the performances in this film are generally good, but Pacino's acting is just a hair under his usual perfection in this one. I am not sure why I feel this way, but I'm not certain that Pacino enjoyed making this film. Part of the problem here may be the fact that the script does not allow for any obvious representation of self discovery for Pacino's character. Since this film is, for both Taransky and his family, a story of hard lessons learned about themselves, at least one epiphany scene might have been appropriate. Another minor problem I had with the script was the fact that it was hard for me to find any reason why Taransky would want to reconnect with his ex-wife. She is one of the most superficial and irritating characters in the film, most of the time. However, these are rather personal gripes and may well be part of some interpretive point which I missed. Perhaps, as in many other exercises in Hollywood reflexivity such as the excellent "The Player", the writer and director really did want to suggest that all that really matters IS performance, and the quality of the act. The pace of the first half of the film will likely turn off many viewers, as might the sudden mood swings and the rather prolonged, steeply descending and deep denouement after Taransky discovers that career success does not guarantee satisfaction, and learns that to have integrity one must act with integrity. But, just as the film begins its long but rapid descent from irony and satiric comedy into dark drama, the pace picks up and the film grabs your attention, holding fast until the strong finish. This is a good film for a thoughtful, critical audience, offering critique of Hollywood, commercial film, celebrity worship and pop culture, but doing so without insulting its own audience's intelligence.
A producer's film is endangered when his star walks off, so he decides to digitally create an actress to substitute for the star, becoming an overnight sensation that everyone thinks is a real person.
May 28, 2020