Film review – Hollywoodland (2006)

Hollywoodland is a terrific based-on-true-events drama about the violent death of George Reeves, the actor who played Superman in the 50s television serial. Due to studio pressure, the police investigating Reeves death quickly write it off as suicide but struggling private detective Louis Simo believes that there are dubious circumstances pointing towards murder.

Adrian Brody portrays Simo with the perfect blend of sleaze and charm, Diane Lane is ideal as Toni Mannix, Reeves’s lover/sugar-mummy, while Bob Hoskins is suitably menacing as studio head Eddie Mannix. The big revelation is Ben Affleck who plays Reeves in the long flashback sequences preceding his death. Affleck is genuinely endearing as Reeves, a frustrated actor who aspired to so much but was forever burdened by his public persona as the Man of Steel.

The lush music score and sizzling cinematography provide the classic film noir atmosphere of desperate men and seductive women in a dangerous city. However Hollywoodland is not a straightforward detective story. Director Allen Coulter (TV’s The Sopranos and Sex and the City) focuses predominantly on the parallels between the empty lives of Reeves and Simo making Hollywoodland a melancholic film about corrupt Hollywood, shattered dreams and failed ambitions.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 274, 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2007