Rated 4.0

The trailer for this movie, concerning the 1959 death of TV Superman George Reeves (Ben Affleck), calls it “Hollywood’s most notorious unsolved mystery.” That’s subject to debate, but no matter. The strength of TV veteran Allen Coulter’s feature-length directorial debut doesn’t depend on its high concept—nor even on its nostalgically noir-ish execution. What makes the movie good is that it’s actually driven by its characters. Adrien Brody plays a fictional low-rent private eye who figures the Reeves case is the break he needs. Yeah, Affleck is OK, but the movie really belongs to Brody, who calmly calibrates his gestural details as carefully as those of the period-precise costumes and sets, and steers at-risk scenes away from cliché with a steady surety. Much credit also belongs to screenwriter Paul Bernbaum, who unfortunately writes himself into a corner trying to avoid a Hollywood ending. Also with strong support from Bob Hoskins, Diane Lane and other lesser-knowns.