The premise and Niccol's take on it are smart enough to keep our brains fully engaged from start to finish. This is smart, incisive stuff, cutting to the core of society's obsession with celebrity. There are also a lot of nifty binary-code jokes, as well as the irony that about half the cast seems to be uncredited on this film! Pacino creates yet another engaging character who slowly unravels as the film progresses (he's much better in the first half when Viktor it trying to understand the implications). The rest of the cast are entertaining and energetic as well, although the contrived romantic subplot, sporadic bits of slapstick and drawn-out final act never work. This more broadly comic material was obviously inserted to remind us that the premise is plainly preposterous; no Hollywood studio could ever be this crass! But how much more interesting and searing it could have been if Niccol had the nerve to take on the industry with a black satire about the invented nature of fame. These things are buried inside this film, dying to get out. Just think about Viktor's passing comment: "If the performance is genuine, it doesn't matter if the actor is real or not."
dir-scr Andrew Niccol|
with Al Pacino, Catherine Keener, Rachel Roberts, Evan Rachel Wood, Jay Mohr, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Jason Schwartzman, Winona Ryder, Elias Koteas, Daniel von Bargen, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Forest Whitaker
release UK 25.Oct.02; US 16.Aug.02
At the Oscars. Viktor and Elaine (Pacino and Keener) wait to see if Simone has won...
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