If only the stories of Hollywoodland stayed in Hollywoodland. This film gives me the feeling that either the good stuff is on the cutting room floor or never made it into the script. While the story of George Reeves’ mysterious “suicide” is intriguing, the process of telling that story is undeniably tedious.
The film stars Adrien Brody as Louis Simo, a five-and-dime private detective. We are first introduced to him as he continues case work for a man who suspects his wife is cheating. Simo sloughs off the prospect, but continues to take the guy’s money and feed him by-the-numbers updates. This does not paint a pretty picture for Simo; we aren’t connecting with him at this point. Brody does his best to sell the character, but there isn’t enough for him to work with.
This brings us to Mr. George Reeves played by Ben Affleck. We meet Reeves as a struggling actor looking for that one big role; instead he finds one big sugar-momma in Toni Mannix played by Diane Lane. Mannix is married to MGM big boss Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins) but that doesn’t stop her from buying George a house and helping get his career on track, all the while slipping him a bit of what is under her slip from time to time.
So, you take this bit of information for what it is worth and take it into consideration for what this movie is really about, the mysterious death of George Reeves. At first glimpse it looks like he took his own life with the bullet from a Luger to the head, but looks can be deceiving. Simo is brought in by Reeves’ mother to look into the prospect that instead of suicide this was in fact a murder.
See, intriguing. For those of you that don’t know this Reeves played Superman in “Adventures of Superman” in the late 1950s. His death was heard around the world and the conspiracy seemed to run deep. However, as far as the film is concerned, there isn’t much to go on. If this was murder there aren’t many clues and the movie becomes reliant on flashbacks and bewildered looks on the part of Adrien Brody to keep images on the screen. Trust me, watching Adrien Brody think is not as spellbinding as some may think.
On top of all this we are never really given the opportunity to connect to the Reeves character. I know this is the perfect opportunity to lay into Affleck and his acting ability, and I will admit that my opinion of him as an actor is not exactly flattering, but he does fine with the role, like Brody though he isn’t given enough to do. Better said, he isn’t given enough to do at one time. The film jumps back-and-forth in time so much that just as we may be starting to have feelings one way or another on any one character we are quickly whooshed off to somewhere else and we quickly forget what we were almost allowed to feel.
Hollywoodland had spectacular potential, but due to script flaws and what seems like a larger dedication to the true events the story portrays, we are left with a story that didn’t really need to be told. I know embellishing facts in a film “based on a true story” is a bit of a faux pas but I can honestly say that this was one of those times I wouldn’t have minded the director (feature film first timer Allen Coulter) taking a few liberties and guiding me one way or another. He tries, but I never really buy into it.