Reviewed in September 2006
Director: Allen Coulter. Cast: Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, Diane Lane, Robin Tunney, Bob Hoskins, Molly Parker, Lois Smith, Jeffrey DeMunn, Kathleen Robertson, Caroline Dhavernas, Dash Mihok, Joe Spano, Zach Mills. Screenplay: Paul Bernbaum.

Photo © 2006 Focus Features
This flat-footed procedural offers a marginal Hollywood malfeasance as some kind of plangently tragic conundrum. The question of who killed George Reeves (Ben Affleck), the star of TV's Superman, gets sieved and re-sieved through the dully interlocking stories of his failure to score better parts, his affair with a studio boss' wife (Diane Lane), and his later relationship with a piranha who doesn't care about him (Robin Tunney). Plus, he has the bad luck to be posthumously investigated by a swaggering, irritating, hotheaded detective, instead of by someone that a movie audience might actually want to spend two hours with. Sadly, there is no ironic resonance in the fact that Adrien Brody has barely less contempt for his part as the detective than Reeves had for his padded-suit Man of Steel. Brody constantly winks that he's way too cool for this shoddily written role, perhaps too cool for the industry as a whole—though he sure looks awfully sincere whenever he spouts one of the script's limping banalities about the loneliness of fame or the distorting power of the newsmedia. Presumably, Brody is only too happy to let Affleck hoard all the big press, which reached a sort of dadaist climax when he won the Best Actor award at Venice in September. I can only assume that Catherine Deneuve and her fellow jurors were bribed (money? gelato? weed?) into seeing something remarkable in Affleck's sad spectacle. The "takes one to know one" thesis behind the casting of one discontented star in the role of an earlier one might sound nervy on paper, but however well the stains and self-imposed limits on Affleck's career and abilities are meant to rhyme with those of Reeves, we still have his minuscule range of expression, stolid physicality, and inveterate self-regard to contend with. Hollywoodland never makes a case that Reeves' death is worth probing, or even mourning; as on Superman, his humanity is utterly stifled by lousy production values and unrewarding stunts. We eventually land in a vortex of plot "twists" and unimaginable old-age makeup, but it's best to classify this one as a cold case before you even make it that far. D–

Golden Globe Nominations:
Best Supporting Actor: Ben Affleck

Other Awards:
Venice Film Festival: Best Actor (Affleck)

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