Shiny Shelf


LONDON FILM FESTIVAL: Hollywoodland

By Jim Smith on 19 November 2006

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

George Reeves, for those of you lacking the required qualifications in pure menk, was TV’s Superman back in the halcyon days of Eisenhower’s America. Before playing Kal-L he’d been in ‘Gone With The Wind’ in a featured role and after it he was nearly cut out of ‘From Here To Eternity’ because asinine test audiences seemingly couldn’t understand how an actor could play more than one role.

Reeves died from a single gunshot wound to the head in his Hollywood apartment; theories have ranged from the official (and most convincing) verdict of suicide (he was a drunk, slightly unstable and mortified by the turns his career had taken, where even his successes prevented him from doing the kind of things he wanted) to murder by persons or persons unknown for a variety of fantastical, improbable and often downright bloody stupid reasons.

‘Hollywoodland’ has two plot strands. In the first, Adrian Brody (doing that Adrian Brody thing of brooding and looking pained while staring into the middle distance) plays a dysfunctional detective hired to look into Reeves’ death by the actor’s Mother. In the second Ben Affleck plays Reeves in flashbacks which detail the last years of his life, trapped in an oddly matched relationship with a sexy older woman (a terrific Diane Lane) who also happens to be the wife of a studio boss; one played with relish and cunning restraint by Bob Hoskins.

Affleck is outstanding here; doing the kind of work that he has always been capable of but which his odd career choices have denied him. Funny, subtle, charming, brave, arrogant, clever and sad, Affleck’s Reeves is a very plausible enigma, one that Affleck’s own celebrity and peculiar career trajectory assist in the creation of. It’s his best performance since his turn as that sixteenth century box office idol Ned Alleyn in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

Assuredly and candidly directed by TV veteran Allen Coulter (who retains the eye for making beautiful people real and real people beautiful he had on ‘Sex and the City’) ‘Hollywoodland’ is a shrewd comment on the nature of mythmaking both by the press and by film and television; one that very wisely asks more questions than it offers answers, providing only domestic catharsis and leaving everything else up in the air, if not completely up, up and away.


Line Break

Comments are closed.