Hollywoodland marks the end of the road for two men chasing fame. Ironically though it's an upward turn in the career of Ben Affleck, as TV's Superman George Reeves. Adrien Brody is the lynchpin in this noirish take on a true story, playing a low-rent gumshoe looking to boost his profile when Reeves is discovered with a bullet in the brain. Although it lacks enough suspense, director Allen Coulter's movie debut powerfully evokes the grit and glamour of 50s Tinseltown.
It's more a cautionary tale than a thriller, with shades of Sunset Boulevard (1950) as a young aspiring Reeves becomes entangled with a possessive older woman (the formidable Diane Lane). She happens to be the wife of a high-ranking studio exec (Bob Hoskins), and in a later timeframe, PI Louis Simo figures the love triangle could have led to Reeves' murder.
Simo considers other theories, but tension dissipates as the investigation hits various dead ends. Inevitably the mystery remains unsolved and writer Paul Bernbaum sidesteps the problem by asking deeper questions. He tests Reeves and Simo in the lengths they'll go to win recognition, and then in seeking redemption for crossing the line. They are richly drawn characters with each actor adding his own brand of roguish charm.
"AFFLECK WRYLY SENDS UP SUPERMAN"
Affleck is particularly suited to Reeves, wryly sending up the squeaky clean image he came to resent eg sneaking a cigarette between world-saving exploits. And along with the red cape comes an air of tragedy that hangs thick throughout the film. It's far from seamless, but it is genuinely haunting.