Step back into the 1940s and 50s with "Hollywoodland," a well-made film noir that examines the death of George Reeves, TV's "Superman." Down-on-his-luck private eye Louie (Adrien Brody) is hired by Reeves' mother who thinks it was murder, even though the police have labeled it a suicide. Louie's investigation alternates with flashbacks showing Reeves (Ben Affleck) from his early days as a struggling actor, through his successful TV series, and his trials as a typecast has-been. Among Louie's suspects are Reeves' older mistress (Diane Lane), her studio boss husband (Bob Hoskins), and Reeve's finance. We also see Louie as he tries to deal with his ex-wife, alienated young son, and two-timing girlfriend. Louie is determined to crack the case because he sees how much he and Reeves had in common: They were both very unhappy men.
Brody and Affleck give outstanding performances playing flawed but likeable characters. You want to see Reeves be a success and you find yourself pulling for Louie to solve the mystery, even though the world seems against him. The lovely Diane Lane does a great job playing the older woman. I think the real star, however, is the director who recreated the time period so lovingly and filmed with dim, atmospheric lighting that made it look and feel like an old Bogart movie. The costumes and sets, hairdos and cars, and the constant smoking all combine to make it feel real. The film is a little long, but the story, stars, and action are riveting. If you remember that period you'll really feel at home here. I enjoyed this thoughtful, character-driven drama.