Hollywoodland (R)

Drama 126 September 8, 2006
By J. Hoberman
If Superman Returns attempted to resurrect the Man of Steel as mythic hero, the season's other Superman movie wants to disabuse us of any such childish illusions. Glamorously adult, Hollywoodland purports to part the veil on the circumstances by which George Reeves, the actor who embodied the superhero on ’50s television, wound up with a bullet in his brain. Directed by Allen Coulter from Paul Bernbaum’s screenplay, the film aspires to a certain authenticity. Suavely self-satisfied Ben Affleck is typecast as the unfortunate Reeves and serious intentions are signaled by a somewhat choppy Citizen Kane structure. Scenes from the actor's life alternate with the investigation into his death conducted by private eye Louis Simo (Adrien Brody). Louis is an enigmatic bottom-feeder; George is a desperate bon vivant. Coulter contrived a neat behavioral trick by inducing Affleck to play a comparably big-jawed bad actor -- it's an unexpectedly touching performance. Real actor Adrien Brody wrestles with an underwritten part whose painful domestic arguments and drunk scenes serve only to parallel those walked through by the fantasy boy. At a certain point, the protags begin to merge, but it's an unequal situation. Brody has to act to make it in Hollywoodland, Affleck simply is.
Allen Coulter Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Larry Cedar, Joe Spano, Lois Smith, Kathleen Robertson, Dash Mihok Paul Bernbaum Glenn Williamson Focus Features

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