To those in the know, and by that I mean those who have seen The Truman Show (1998), it will come as little surprise, once you realise what you can expect from S1m0ne (2002), that it was directed as well as written by Andrew Niccol, who wrote the marvellous screenplay for Peter Weir‘s ‘world within a world’ masterpiece.
So, how do Niccol’s directorial efforts match up to his evident writing skills? Very well indeed, actually – we join despairing auteur director Viktor Taransky, whose star Nicola Anders (Winona Ryder) has just flounced off the set of his latest film, declaring her intention to sue if Taransky uses even a frame of her on film. Big problem – his film was by and large in the can, and now it’s going to be shelved, at the behest of his ex-wife producer Elaine Christian (Catherine Keener), who also informs him that his contract will not be renewed.
Taransky is in a bind – long renowned for his attitude that the work, cinema itself, is the most important thing, not the star, he nevertheless decides to ‘create’ a star of his own, using the computer generated wizardry that has been bequeathed to him by his greatest fan, the somewhat disturbed ‘Hank’ (Elias Koteas), who dies from cancer, leaving his secret with Taransky. The director gives ‘Simone’ (S1mOne) (Rachel Roberts) to the world, but such is the acclaim generated by his computer generated idol, he finds it more and more difficult to own up to his deception. Simone begins to own him…
As with The Truman Show (1998), this works well because of the credibility of its characterizations – even though we might quite not buy that ‘it could actually happen’, stalwart performances from Pacino (and particularly the etheral Roberts) ensure that we are happily carried along for the ride. Only the ending disappoints somewhat – while it is unlikely that Niccol bowed to studio pressure to insert a happy ending, the denoument nevertheless feels more than a little tacked on.
No matter, though – an entirely appetising confection which, like The Truman Show (1998), has more than a few serious points to make concerning the concept of identity.