- Category: Movies
- Created: September 26, 2007, 12:00 am
- Written by Ryan Speck
Hollywoodland is a movie that builds a bit of fiction around the true-life mystery death of George Reeves, the story of a detective that takes on the case and comes close to finding the truth... But this is no Black Dahlia or Murder By Decree. There are no absolutes and the truth will always remain unknown.
Instead, while edging ever closer to the real questions in the case, the life of our hero detective, played by Adrien Brody, is shown in close symmetry to the arc of George Reeves, whose sad life is played out brilliantly by Ben Affleck in a role that deserved far more credit than it was given.
The plot cuts back and forth in time between detective Louis Simo, looking for answers in Reeves' death, and the story of Reeves himself, torn between women and the dichotomy of desired fame and unwanted infamy.
The plot, while providing no concrete solution, could not be more perfect in the manner in which it lays out the events of both Reeves' and Simo's arcs. The fact that it is fairly well ignored is a shame as it is one of the better noir crime dramas to come out in some time and gives a platform to a wide array of actors, all of whom give excellent performances.
Affleck and Brody, both superb in the film, are backed by Diane Lane and Robin Tunney as two very different femme fatales, Bob Hoskins as the heavy mogul, and many other character actors in supporting performances. And there's not a single bad performance in the whole film, every actor giving the film weight and a depth that does honor to the memory of Reeves and the bleakness of the crime.
The writing and acting draw so much attention that one almost forgets the smooth direction, the first feature work from television director Allen Coulter, best known for a tremendous amount of work for HBO and a variety of TV series. He does very well here without overshadowing his subject matter with directorial flourishes and stylization. We can only hope he returns to film soon.
Overall, this period piece delivers more than expected and manages to be entirely satisfying without tying a true crime story into a neat little bow for the viewer.