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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner30/10/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 126 mins

Opens London Film Festival: 30th October

With a career-best performance from Ben Affleck, this is an enjoyable, well made thriller, even if the ending is a bit of a cop-out.

What's it all about?
In 1959, when TV Superman George Reeves (Ben Affleck) is found dead in his apartment, the official police report says suicide, but his mother (Lois Smith) thinks otherwise and hires opportunistic private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) to investigate. As Simo digs deeper into the case, he uncovers Reeves' long-term affair with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the wife of studio boss Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), who is rumoured to have mob connections.

The Good
Hollywoodland would make a good double-bill with Brian DePalma's The Black Dahlia, since both films present fictional solutions to real-life Hollywood mysteries. The production design is terrific, with gorgeous, atmospheric photography and an evocative, suitably noirish score by Marcelo Zarvos.

The film's biggest surprise is Ben Affleck, who delivers a career-best performance as Reeves, a decent man who took his responsibilities as a hero to millions of children seriously, while privately complaining that he'd never be cast in serious roles again. And director Allen Coulter gives Affleck some terrific scenes, whether it's playing the guitar and singing in Spanish, or, in the film's best scene, confronting a child who's pointing a real gun at him.

The Great
Brody, Hoskins and particularly Lane are all equally good and there's strong support from Molly Parker (as Simo's estranged wife) and Robin Tunney as George's wife, aspiring starlet Leonore Lemmon. Coulter also has a strong eye for little visual details, such as an old man pumping iron or Superman's grey suit.

The only real problem is that the film's ending is a bit of a cop-out, suggesting three possible solutions to the mystery without actually endorsing any of them.

Worth seeing?
Hollywoodland is not quite as satisfying as it should have been, but it's still an engaging, beautifully made thriller with a superb performance from Affleck.

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Content updated: 15/12/2019 10:31

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