Prayer Focus
Movie Review

S1m0ne also known as “Simone”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sensuality

Reviewed by: Eric Bumpus

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Drama / Comedy
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
Copyright, Warner Bros. click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Al Pacino and Catherine Keener in ‘Simone’

CELEBRITIES’ VIEWS—What do “Hollywood” celebrities believe about spiritual issues? Find out

HOLLYWOOD DISCONNECT—Why is there a disconnect between “Hollywood” and the rest of America? Answer

CHANGE HOLLYWOOD—What is being done to change the values of “Hollywood”? Answer

Starring: Al Pacino, Winona Ryder, Rebecca Romijn, Rachel Roberts, Chris Coppola | Directed by: Andrew Niccol | Produced by: Andrew Niccol | Written by: Andrew Niccol | Distributor: New Line Cinema

There is a communication theory that believes we construct social reality. “Coordinated Management of Meaning” says that our perceptions determine what we believe to be real. By this thought, Simone (Simulation One), in New Line Cinema’s “S1m0ne”, is real because we “perceive” her as real. This film makes an excellent statement that Hollywood is a major influencer of what perceptions we are allowed to see. This idea is illustrated by the “focus” on Hank’s eye tumor at the beginning of the film and then, on Simone’s eye when film producer, Viktor Toransky (Al Pacino), injects Simone with a virus. The Biblical account in Genesis 3 also uses the eye as a symbol of changed reality. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, Scripture says “their eyes were opened.” Likewise, Hollywood “opens our eyes” to a predetermined “reality” for its own recognition; and sometimes for “truth.”

“Simone” was marketed to keep us guessing as to the reality of Simone’s character as the cast audience was led to believe as well. This type of marketing began with films such as “Blair Witch” and “A.I.” to add a 4th dimension to film. Without the Fall in Genesis 3, this “perception marketing” would never work.

“S1m0ne” is beautifully crafted and holds my praise—until the ending. This ending, however, seems in direct contradiction to the theme throughout the rest of the film. In his “Uncertainty Anxiety Management” theory, William Gudykunst explains the four levels of communication competence by William Howell. Viktor Toransky displays this first level, “Unconscious Incompetence,” at the onset of his lie. In other words, he had no idea what this lie would do to his audience immersed in America’s Pop culture. After attempting to destroy Simone, we are led to believe he will tell the truth, thus displaying a “Conscious Competence,” but instead, he concludes his character’s transformation by increasing the lie to include having a child with Simone (Also virtual, as is illustrated by the green screen ending).

This display of “Conscious Incompetance” left me very disappointed and asking myself, “How does this ending shape perception on the human condition, since Viktor blatantly ignored his humanity he learned of 15 minutes prior?” Could it be that he is more concerned with recognition even though he claimed it was really “all about the work”?

Also, if the film audience knew Simone was simulated, would they treat her any differently than other actors they idolized? We knew she was simulated and yet, we were still captivated by the fact we want her to be real. Maybe this explains why no one believed Viktor when he did attempt telling the truth about Simone’s existence. Therefore, we could conclude that “perception is more powerful than reason” (i.e.: Seeing is Believing), but Scripture says it should be the other way around (1 Peter 3:15, 1 John 4:1-4).

This gives us more proof and validity to why we must follow Romans 12:2 even in the midst of our entertainment. This film is an excellent portrayal of who we are as humans, and who we could become, but heed its anti-thetical conclusion.

Viewer Comments
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this film! I thought that it was thought-provoking, well-written, clever, and well-acted. You name it And on top of all that, it was a very clean movie. I believe there was one curse word and one use of the Lord’s name in vain, and no nudity. By today’s standards, that is very clean indeed, especially for a movie that is almost 2 hours long. I found the first 15 minutes of this film downright hilarious. It was funny in a way that you had to pay attention to catch. And in the rest of the movie, the shallowness of Hollywood and the way that fanaticism takes over the masses was well played out. I hope that this movie finds an audience. I, personally, am glad that I gave it a try. The move made me ponder on how blessed it is to know Christ. I don’t have to shower adoration on anyone of this world. I adore the One who has the Name above every name! Jesus, my Savior and Lord.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Rena, age 36
Positive—Sadly, this may end up being one of the most underrated films this year. This film has a lot to say about many modern issues from media influence to the nature of reality; though it is mostly a very good parody of the fakeness that is Hollywood. However, the satire is very subtle and understated, and I am afraid many people may not see it. Being a movie buff and someone who thinks a lot about the media in our nation today, I felt like I caught all the jokes in this film and found them mostly hilarious. This film will also likely be left behind, since it’s a thinking movie, slowly paced to get the audience to reflect on their own lives—no monsters, explosions, etc. This film had some great symbolism and subtlety to it and I thought this was a very solid script. I found the last 10% dragged a bit, and I agree that the ending totally contradicted the film’s supposed message. The Taransky character supposedly learned it was wrong to make a “fake” and lie about it, yet do es just that at the end.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Kevin, age 31
Negative—Please please please just save your money and wait for the video. Although there was more or less nothing objectionable parts of this movie (with a few small exceptions, such as mention of Simone not having any problems with gratuitous nudity, although we don’t see anything, only hear her opinion on it), the movie in general was just… not worth it. The symbolism was there, but they were beating us over the head with it. I’m sure there was a great social commentary in there someplace about the film industry and people in general, but it’s just not worth it.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 1½]
—The Carrot, age 19

Scripting, story-line and casting were excellent. However, the viewer should be warned of some of the objectionable content: God’s name in vain at least once, Jesus’ name in vain at least once, many suggestive sexual images. This is not a film for children. Personally, my thought is that this is an adult film, because of the above content.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Fred, age 43

Positive—Although “Simone” will most likely do poorly at the box office, it could be viewed as one of the best satires ever written. In fact, it seems that this film was almost designed to do poorly at the box office. Hyped as a comedy, the true subject matter of this story is the gullibility of the masses and our modern culture’s emphasis on image over reality. At first I was disappointed. Having seen the director’s first movie, “Gattaca,” I was expecting something different. Driving home from the movie theater, it dawned on me. The power of a mere image can be the most destructive power on Earth. One statement over a radio broadcast in the movie gave the terrorist war a backseat to the Academy Awards where Simone was expected to win an Oscar. Another statement by Al Pacino’s character implied that its easier to fool a million people than just one. The entire movie was packed full of subtle analogies to Satan’s hold on our entire population. Today’s generation is born into a world that presents, in the guise of established, normal behavior, a repulsive licentiousness which is apparent only upon carefully guided analysis (ie. through morality and reasoning). Simone addresses this evil effectively and SHOULD leave the audience with a sour feeling about their ill-founded beliefs. But the truth is, most people will leave the theater thinking the movie was just a mediocre comedy about Hollywood’s elitist mentality, missing the point completely.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Oliver Olinger, age 23