You'll believe Ben Affleck can act.
In "Hollywoodland," the often criticized actor portrays George Reeves, TV's Superman in the 1950s, who was also criticized at the time for his perceived lack of acting chops.
However, Affleck hasn't been this good in years ... maybe ever. And his credible performance is just one of the highlights of this slowly engrossing mystery/thriller, which may be a little long, but which also features a terrific cast.
Adrien Brody stars as Louis Simo, a (fictional) private detective investigating the death of Reeves, who was found dead in his home under somewhat questionable circumstances. Police investigators have written off Reeves' shooting death as a suicide, though his mother (Lois Smith) believes otherwise.
So she hires Simo, who believes that taking on this high-profile case may be a way to make a quick buck and perhaps rehabilitate his stalled career. However, he starts hitting a series of dead ends, especially when he begins examining Reeves' connection to Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), the wife of philandering studio executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins).
The film is a promising big-screen debut for veteran television director Allen Coulter (HBO's "Rome" and "The Sopranos").
While screenwriter Paul Bernbaum's story ends on an ambiguous note, it's still a believable work of speculative fiction. Much of that has to do with the performances. Wearing a convincing fake nose appliance and glasses, Affleck looks and sounds eerily like the late Reeves.
There's never been any doubt about the acting abilities of Oscar-winner Brody, and he turns in his usually strong work as Simo, which helps flesh out the slightly underwritten character.
Lane and Robin Tunney both seem to be enjoying their roles as femme fatales, while Hoskins is more subdued and therefore more menacing than usual.
"Hollywoodland" is rated R for strong sexual language (including use of profanity and slang, as well as innuendo), some strong violence (shootings, as well as a beating), simulated sex and other sexual contact, gore, brief partial male and female nudity, brief drug content (references), and use of racial epithets and ethnic slurs. Running time: 126 minutes.