Friday, September 08, 2006


Directed by Allen Coulter
Written by Paul Bernbaum

The old scandal-ridden Hollywood is going to be mined endlessly for films depicting stars who were killed before their time. The last one was Auto Focus, which took the mysterious murder of "Hogan's Heroes" star Bob Crane and was one of those paint-by-numbers biopics. This one has a slightly different approach but the results are still the same. It's not that interesting of a story.

The movie is mainly about private detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) and his attempt to get people to reconsider the death of TV's Superman George Reeves (Ben Affleck) as a murder rather than the accepted suicide. Reeves, a struggling actor who had a part in Gone With the Wind but kicked around looking for stardom, ended up playing the iconic superhero in the fifties and became a hero to millions of children before his apparent suicide. He hooked up with studio executive Eddie Mannix's (Bob Hoskins) wife Toni (Diane Lane), who helped him get on his feet. But his life as Superman proved to be a curse when he got a role in From Here to Eternity and was cut out because the test audiences couldn't see him as anything else. His breakup with Mannix and then finding new love with Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney) is covered. But Simo is most of the show, his relationship with his divorced wife Laurie (Molly Parker) and his son Evan (Zach Mills) is given a lot of limelight. His work, at first financially motivated and shallow, becomes the real deal as he starts believing Reeves was murdered.

The movie, filmed by HBO vet Coulter ("The Sopranos," among others), has some nice subtle moments--I liked the parts with Simo and his son Evan, distraught over the Reeves death in a way his father can't figure out, thinking it has to do with Superman and not himself. Affleck as Reeves isn't exactly stretching into the far reaches of his ability, winning mostly when he plays the actor in comic moments.

But I never really got into this movie, despite some nice touches. There's not really a theory Simo approaches into the mystery and therefore the plot is a big mess. His investigation is a bunch of admitted nonsense at first, losing the movie some steam. The movie makes a sort of, "Well, you decide" conclusion into Reeves' death, although it's certain the stance it is taking is that it was murder. So what then? A bunch of theories, a bunch of going nowhere narratively. Was it studio power Mannix? Was it his wife? Was it Lemmon? Was it an accident? It might have worked better as a straight drama, not really exploring George Reeves at all and sticking with Simo; Reeves just a sort of raison d'etre for Simo's character. Because the movie needs to spend time with both lead characters, it's a bit muddled and less than what it could be.


At 9/09/2006 01:45:00 AM, Blogger RC said...

i think i appreciated that the film didn't try to solve the mystery...and certainly showed the intrigue...

I agree w/ you on your thoughts on the scene with the adrien brody and "his son."

--RC of


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