In 1959, television Superman actor George Reeves (BEN AFFLECK) is shot dead in an apparent suicide. His mother Helen Bessolo (LOIS SMITH) is convinced that her son was murdered and hires private investigator Louis Simo (ADRIEN BRODY) to find out the truth.
Simo is currently down on his luck and barely scraping together a living. He has a strained relationship with his estranged wife Laurie (MOLLY PARKER) and son Evan (ZACH MILLS), who has taken the death of Superman very badly. Therefore the chance of gaining fame and a good pay cheque are just what Simo is looking for.
As he delves deeper into the murky world of the Hollywood film industry, however, Simo meets stumbling blocks at every turn and a string of possible suspects who may have murdered Reeves.
Could new lover Leonore Lemon (ROBIN TUNNEY), who erroneously believed that George was ready to marry her, be the culprit? How about his previous lover Toni Mannix (DIANE LANE), who had funded the struggling actor, ruthlessly manipulated him and jealously guarded him from other, younger women? There is also Tonis husband, the powerful and unscrupulous movie mogul Edgar Mannix (BOB HOSKINS), who obviously had his own grievances against Reeves.
Director ALLEN COULTER has created in HOLLYWOODLAND an old style thriller with a nice recreation of time and place. Much of the film is told in flashbacks and, at times, from Simos own imagination as he calculates what may have happened during the night of the shooting. This throws up some interesting red herrings and despite all the flashbacks the film is not too difficult to follow, while the cast give good performances.
There are some nice Special Features on the disc which, while not extensive, make for worthwhile viewing. They include the Featurettes Recreating Old Hollywood (over 6 minutes), Behind The Headlines (7 minutes) and Hollywood Then And Now (over 7 minutes), as well as a trio of Deleted Scenes running to 5 minutes in length.
Those who like plenty of action in their films will not find it here. As a character study which makes us think, however, the film works very well indeed and is highly recommended.