Playing Superman on TV brought aspiring film actor George Reeves stardom, but it also held him back as far as more serious acting roles went.
When a 45-year-old Reeves was found dead in his home in 1959, his death was ruled a suicide, and attributed to this B-level frustration. The result of a single bullet wound, Reeves's death caused controversy in and around Hollywood, where popular theories related his death to either his starlet fiancé, Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney), or his famously ongoing and unique relationship with Toni Mannix (a fabulous Diane Lane), the wife of mob-connected MGM head Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins).
Hollywoodland explores Reeves' life and tragic end from the perspective of Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), a private investigator hired by Reeves' mother shortly after his death. Cutting back and forth between scenes of Reeves' life and Simo's detective work, the film draws parallels between two men kept from appreciating the present by dreams of future grandeur. Ben Affleck returns to form as Reeves, a man whose hindering celebrity status may have reminded the actor of his own: despite breaking onto the scene with an Academy Award for writing Good Will Hunting in 1997, Affleck's career was at one point overshadowed by a romance as familiar to the public as Superman's cape.
With close attention to detail, first-time director Allen Coulter creates two distinct worlds specific to their time, Simo's noir-ish and seedy L.A. forming a bleak contrast to the glamorous, formal Tinseltown Reeves so longed to be embraced by. An accomplished act for a first time director, Hollywoodland offers viewers a believable look into Hollywood's most glamorous bygone era.
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