In June 1959, George Reeves (Ben Affleck), best known to American TV audiences as Superman, is found dead from a single gunshot to the head, in his Hollywood Hills home. He leaves behind a fiancée - aspiring starlet Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) - and fans who are shocked by his death. His grieving mother, Helen Bessolo (Lois Smith), cannot believe George committed suicide. The Los Angeles Police Department closes the case, but Helen hires private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) to dig deeper. Simo learns that the affair Reeves had with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the wife of MGM studio executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), might hold the key to the truth. Might ... maybe ... and maybe there are other answers, but can he find the right one?
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The filmmakers create an unnecessarily convoluted time-shift structure and obtuse storyline for what should be a riveting tale of yet another real-life unsolved Hollywood murder (following Brian de Palma's The Black Dahlia onto Australian screens). This would be less of a problem if the film's resolution delivered an ending to satisfy us. No, not necessarily a conclusion as to the cause of Reeves' death - we are happy to contemplate the three possibilities recreated. But from a character point of view, Adrien Brodey's emotional journey as a broken down investigator and a broken down father from a broken marriage, is the film's incomplete centrepiece, Ben Affleck's superb portrayal of George Reeves notwithstanding.
There are many excellent things in the film, though, especially in the first half, as George Reeves struggles from obscurity into the half light of low level fame as low budget, black and white Superman. In these sequences, we see Affleck's finer skills as an actor, and Paul Bernbaum's script is smart, engaging and accessible.
Diane Lane and Robin Tunner deliver exceptional performances as his lovers as Toni and Leonore, full of steel, sex and brio. I'm never keen to see Bob Hoskins in American character roles, even though I admire his talents; even the great Alec Guinness couldn't cross the cultural gap to portray Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia.
But the film's main flaw is its unclear story telling - with a subject matter that's both fact based and yet akin to noir fiction, perhaps this is entirely apt. Noir fiction stories are always a bit indecipherable.
There are several featurettes on the DVD (Re-creating Old Hollywood, Behind The Headlines, Hollywood Then and Now) as well as deleted scenes.
Published July 19, 2007
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ALLEN COULTER INTERVIEW
HOLLYWOODLAND: DVD (MA)
CAST: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Lois Smith, Robin Tunney
PRODUCER: Glenn Williamson
DIRECTOR: Allen Coulter
SCRIPT: Paul Bernbaum
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Freeman
EDITOR: Michael Berenbaum
MUSIC: Marcelo Zarvos
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Leslie McDonald
RUNNING TIME: 126 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 15, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Re-Creating Old Hollywood ; Behind The Headlines ; Hollywood Then and Now ; Deleted Scenes
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE
DVD RELEASE: July 18, 2007