It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s Ben Affleck doing his best Superman impersonation.In the new movie “Hollywoodland,” Affleck portrays George Reeves, the man who assumed the role of Superman in the original 1950s TV series.
“Hollywoodland’s” first scene dates back to June 16, 1959, the date of Reeves’ death, and attempts to shed some light on exactly how the former Superman died.
Just like any great murder mystery, the details of his death are hazy at best.
It is widely speculated that his death was a suicide, but as “Hollywoodland” unravels its reels, more and more possibilities are laid out.
Was it an act of murder committed by his jaded mistress Toni (Diane Lane, “Unfaithful”)? Or was it his gold-digging fiancÂe (Robin Tunney, “The Craft”)? Or was it a MGM studio executive (Bob Hoskins, “Stay”), who just happens to be married to Reeves’ mistress?
In typical film noir style, “Hollywoodland” follows private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody, “The Pianist”), who is down on his luck and always looking for the easy buck.
Everyone was ready to rule the death a suicide until Simo starts slinging around accusations of foul play involving Reeves’ death.
The film then starts to jump back and forth from Simo trying to piece together the mystery, to Reeves landing the role of Superman and hating almost every minute of it.
As Simo begins unraveling different death scenarios, the movie intertwines a subplot involving Simo’s family life, which falls flat.
The good news about “Hollywoodland” is that it is saved, to some degree, by the excellent acting throughout the movie – I am including Affleck in this category.
The standout actor is, without a doubt, Diane Lane, who, as a betrayed mistress, hits all the right notes. Her role in “Hollywoodland” could possibly earn Lane her second Academy Award nomination in this decade.
The main problem with “Hollywoodland” is that it moves slower than window pane glass in the dead of winter, has too many subplots and is unable to form any type of conclusion.
By the end of the film, the audience could care less about what really happened to Reeves because the majority of screen time is devoted to Simo’s hardships that are never resolved.
“Hollywoodland” falls into the category of a well-acted and superbly filmed movie, yet simply lacks solid direction. Go see this movie if you are looking to see an actor’s movie, but stay away if you want a movie that wraps up all the loose ends.