tek's rating:

Hollywoodland (R)
Focus Features; Great but Forgotten; IMDb; Miramax; Rotten Tomatoes; Universal; Wikipedia

This is one of those movies where I judge the quality to be higher than my actual enjoyment of the film... which is not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did. Really, it deserves a higher rating than I give it, but I don't expect it to be all that memorable for me. I'm definitely glad to have seen it, though. I'm not entirely happy with my choice of category for my review, but I guess "period" comes closest... though I could almost call it "film noir." Sort of. Or I could almost call it an "art film."

Anyway, it's mainly set in 1959, with this (fictitious) private investigator named Louis Simo looking into the case of the death of actor George Reeves, who was famous for playing Superman in a 1950s TV series. So the movie is sort of based on a true story, but fictionalized. Reeves was found shot in the head, in his home, and the LAPD ruled it a suicide. However, his mother believed he'd been murdered, which Simo set out to prove. The movie alternates scenes set in '59 with scenes that showed some events of Reeves's life, starting in 1951, when he met a woman named Toni Mannix (who we like). They started an affair... and Toni was married to Eddie Mannix, manager of MGM. Toni supports George financially, but he eventually gets a role on the Adventures of Superman... which he didn't like, because he was a serious actor. Unfortunately, he became typecast, which made it pretty much impossible to be taken seriously in the industry. Eventually, George met another woman, Leonore Lemmon (who we like), who became his fiancee, I guess, but... eh, it's complicated. Anyway, she and a couple of friends had been over at George's house the night he died, and it's unclear whether they told the police the truth.

Meanwhile, we also see various aspects of Simo's life, aside from his investigation of the Reeves case. There was another, smaller case he was working. And a strained relationship with his ex-wife, Laurie (who we like), and their son, Evan (who was distraught over Reeves's apparent suicide, like many kids, who idolized him). And, uh, Simo also apparently had a relationship with a woman named Kit (who we like), who I guess was his assistant, or something. And he had a past with... some other detectives. Or something. I dunno, I really didn't follow everything that happened in the movie. And occasionally we see different scenarios for how Reeves could have died. Ultimately, the movie doesn't seem to reach any definite conclusion, which is as it should be, since there's no way of knowing what really happened, in real life. It could be that it was suicide, or he could have been killed by someone hired by Eddie, or by Toni, or Leonore could have done it.

Can't really think what else to say. Definitely an interesting movie, with good acting all around. But a bit frustrating.

period index
film noir index