While Hollywoodland doesn't learn much about the murder of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman on TV from 1951 to 1958, Hollywoodland offers a good exploration of North America's cultural mentality at the end of the 1950s.
In 1959, in Los Angeles, George Reeves (Ben Affleck) is found dead in his bedroom. Obviously, the LAPD closes the investigation and concludes that Reeves committed a suicide. However, Helen Bessolo (Lois Smith), Reeves's mother, hires Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a private detective, to shed the light on her son's death.
As Simo advances in his investigation, we see through flashbacks George Reeves' last days. He wanted to leave Superman behind and be a movie star. No wonder Reeves had an affair with Toni Manix (Diane Lane), the wife of MGM's general manager (Bob Hoskins). In fact, Reeves hoped that Toni will convince her husband to offer him a role in a film.
As a thriller, Hollywoodland doesn't aim to knock your socks off. As Louis Simo constructs in his head possible scenarios about Reeves's death, scriptwriter Paul Bernbaum proposes three hypothesis about how Reeves died. In the end, Bernbaum had the common sense of only exposing these theories and recognizing that it's impossible to tell which one is the truth. After all, you don't interpret a truth with conjectures that you can't prove! Moreover, the fact that Simo stumbles on these hypotheses brilliantly illustrates the fact that in the Hollywood at the end of the 1950s, the cat hardly got out of the bag.
However, the film wouldn't be worth watching if it wasn't for Ben Affleck's performance. With his multi-layered performance, Affleck's depiction of Reeves shows us a man who felt that his dreams were not fulfilled and that the society wouldn't let him do it. Although Reeves enjoyed his fame, he wanted to be a movie star, because there was a time when TV was considered as being sub par to cinema and also being a last resort, for an actor, to earn a living.
Finally, Hollywoodland is a display of talent from its star-studded cast. Besides, Hollywoodland is a proof that Ben Affleck, when cast in the right film, can do a hell of a job. With that said, this film is also one of the most subtle biopics and murder films that one is likely to see. In fact, you'll be elated to see a film that tries to shed light on the dead victim as well as the investigation's progress.
|Starring:||Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck and Bob Hoskins|