Hollywoodland

on September 08, 2006 by Jordan Reed
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Set in 1959, “Hollywoodland” is based on the true story of the mysterious death of George Reeves, who played TV's original Superman. After the actor's apparent suicide, his mother, convinced of foul play, hires private investigator Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) to find out who offed her offspring. As Simo peels the onion and the film returns to the events leading up to the shooting, various suspects emerge, including Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), an older woman who romanced Reeves and acted as his sugar mommy; Toni's studio bigwig husband Edgar (Bob Hoskins), no stranger to infidelity himself; and Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney), the younger hottie for whom Reeves dumps his mistress. While slowly getting in over his head, failed family man Simo simultaneously tries to maintain relations with his son who, along with an estranged wife, is slowly drawing away from his wayward pops.

Allen Coulter makes his feature debut but has an impressive small-screen resume, regularly helming episodes of acclaimed HBO series such as “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under.” “Hollywoodland” is, on its surface, a solid start to his film career. As much credit for that belongs to the production and wardrobe design departments as it does to him: “Hollywoodland” looks great. But the multiple storylines Coulter worked with on the aforementined shows have the advantage of many episodes over which to grow and coalesce, whereas here numerous plots feel incomplete--most notably that of Simo's familial struggle--and compete against each other for valuable time.

Other than as eye candy, “Hollywoodland” works best, if not so subtly, as a cold look at the entertainment industry's obsession with youth and the fatality brought on by an errant wrinkle or gray hair, impressively encapsulated by Diane Lane's strong showing as the past-her-prime Toni. Lane is bound to get the most attention here, and will likely receive another Oscar nomination for her performance. She's beginning to maintain the gravitas of a sexy Joan Allen, and one can only hope that her future roles manage to make the most of her talent as she inevitably falls victim to Hollywood's shortsighted ageism. Starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane and Ben Affleck. Directed by Allen Coulter. Written by Paul Bernbaum. Produced by Glenn Williamson. A Focus release. Drama. Rated R for language, some violence and sexual content. Running time: 126 min.

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