Reviewed by: Eric Bumpus
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.
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.
[Average / 4]
—Fred, age 43