Simone is a wickedly funny satire on the movie business and the nature of celebrity. Al Pacino is Viktor Taransky, a middling filmmaker who has never had a hit. When his star walks out on him in mid production on his latest film he must find a replacement or the movie will never be released. A chance meeting with an eccentric computer programmer with terminal cancer – a tumour developed in his eye from staring at a monitor for too long – leads Viktor to his new leading lady, a synthespian named Simone, (a shortened version of Simulation One). The blonde, blue-eyed vision of beauty doesn’t actually exist except on a floppy disc, but becomes an overnight sensation after the release of picture. Taransky must resort to trickery to keep his secret and her identity under wraps. As she becomes more and more popular – at one point being nominated for two Best Actress Academy awards in the same year, and winning both of them – Taranski realizes that his personal success is completely linked to her existence, and it eats away at him. Pacino shines as Taranski. Gone are the dark days when he simply yelled his way through a role. The histrionics have disappeared and he has started acting again. His Taranski is an interesting character, a man who only cares about art, but finds himself tangled up in the most artificial business in the world. Pacino plays him with humour and restraint. Catherine Keener is here playing an entertainment executive for the third time in the same year – Death to Smoochy and Full Frontal were the other two – and hands in the kind of solid, funny, sexy performance she is known for. Winona Ryder has a small role as a fiercely difficult actress named Nicola Anders. I remember think that after her dreadful performance in Mr. Deeds it seemed like Ryder had forgotten how to act. Well she’s back in my good books after seeing her in Simone. While she doesn’t exactly steal the movie, she’s very good.