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Living in Hollywood can make you famous. Dying in Hollywood can make you a legend. 

Year: 2006 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from Hollywoodland

Director: Allen Coulter

Starring: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins

Hollywoodland is an intriguing, fictitious take on the real-life story of George Reeves (Affleck), who played the title role in 50s show The Adventures of Superman before being found dead in the bedroom of his house in 1959. Following the private detective Louis Simo (Brody), hired by Reeves' mother to investigate the circumstances of the death, the film uses beautifully shot flashbacks to tell the story and unwind the events to the audience in time with Simo's findings. Reeves' past is complicated by a relationship with Toni Mannix (Lane), wife of MGM studio head Edgar Mannix (Hoskins), and when The Adventures of Superman is cancelled, Reeves' cannot find serious acting jobs and turns to drink, leaving Toni for the younger Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney). The film echoes Citizen Kane in the way that an investigator's current contact with characters connected to a man's death are contrasted with flashbacks to these same characters years earlier while the man was still alive (in this case Reeves).

Affleck's performance is superb, subtly and humorously portraying a man who takes his craft seriously and knows he must convince the camera that he is Superman through physical presence and appropriately obvious facial expressions. It is a challenge to play a character who in turn is an actor -especially, as in Reeves' case, not a particularly good one. But Affleck skilfully bounds his own acting instincts when playing Reeves and gives one of the most convincing performances of his career (he worthily won the Volpi Cup award at the Venice Film Festival for it). Diane Lane also shines, maturing as an actress and finding a talent for playing the older, sexy female lead. Brody and Hoskins electrify the screen when their characters come into contact, and Robin Tunney plays Leonore with sufficient seductiveness to make her nabbing of Reeves wholly convincing.

As you would expect from director Coulter's involvement in TV shows The Sopranos and Sex in the City, Hollywoodland is a highly watchable and visually rich film that keeps the audience hooked right until the end through drama, humour and faultless cast performances. A true highlight of 2006.

James Miles

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Spring Term (35mm)