Making the Grades
With technology just beginning to dip its toes into the lake of virtual talent, screenwriter Andrew Niccol plunges into the idea of constructing the perfect digital movie star. Having previously honed his satirical perspective in The Truman Show, this latest effort could leave the author accused of biting the hand that feeds him.
Al Pacino plays Hollywood producer Viktor Taransky. Although he won recognition for his short films, his first three features all "tanked," leaving him to face certain doom from his boss Elaine (Catherine Keener) - who's also his estranged wife. Blaming the celebrities he is convinced rule the industry (his last actress walked mid-picture after discovering her Airstream trailer was an inch shorter than a co-worker's), the crestfallen man is captivated when he inherits a computer disc containing amazing software capable of creating a virtual performer.
Desperate to replace the spoiled artiste and save his film, Viktor invents Simone: a blonde beauty with pouty lips, crystal eyes, and satin skin. Not only does the CG girl rescue the movie but she also becomes the driving force behind Viktor's career. And talk about easy to work with no stunt double, wardrobe, make-up, or Airstream required.
But the celebrity's unprecedented wave of popularity and insinuations of a relationship with her producer threaten to drown Viktor. Anxious to bring Elaine and their daughter back under his roof, he decides to dispose of his digital dream by infecting Simone with a computer virus. Problem solved... until Viktor is arrested on murder charges.
Fortunately only a smattering of bad language and a couple of moments of brief sensuality are included in this insightful film that parents (or teachers) may wish to share with teens. Possessing an intelligent, witty, and often cynical (to the point of hilarious) script, Simone is entertaining on the surface. Yet on deeper levels it explores the hero worship that makes the public willing to accept whatever celebrities endorse, wear, or say.
While one character observes: "There's nothing wrong with fake, as long as you know the truth," the real question left after watching Simone is, "Do we really want the truth?"
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about S1M0NE (Simone).
Simone’s thought provoking points relating to our acceptance of media and the effect it has upon us could be a discussion starter for your family. Some suggested questions are:
- How can we be certain we are viewing reality and not a “creation?” What defines “real?” For example, are airbrushed models in magazines real?
- How do celebrities alter our perception of reality? How can they diminish our ability to accept our imperfections?
- This movie is somewhat cynical in depicting how celebrities endorse certain popular causes. Do you think some organizations, political groups, or diseases receive undue attention as a result of celebrity endorsements? Can you think of any that are overlooked?
- Assuming we had the technology to create a “Simone,” what would the consequences be? What could a virtual celebrity/actress/model do that a real one may not? How important is “personality” in a celebrity?