Truman Capote (Hoffman), during his research for his book In Cold Blood, an account of the murder of a Kansas family, the writer develops a close relationship with Perry Smith, one of the killers.
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Amy Ryan, Mark Pellegrino, Allie Mickelson, Marshall Bell, Araby Lockhart, Robert Huculak, R.D. Reid, Rob McLaughlin, Harry Nelken
Busy weekend for us for movies. Lay and I went to watch Capote last night. The 7:30 show was sold out by the time we arrived, so we came back for the 10:30 show. There were only about a dozen people in that show. The movie is currently showing at only one theater in Tampa and one in St. Petersburg. I really liked the film, but Lay thought it sucked.
The film is certainly stark, and Lay thought it moved slowly. I thought it moved deliberately and with intensity.
The direction by the relatively unknown Bennett Miller is personal, evocative and affecting, but without being over-dramatic. This is helped immensely by Philip Seymour Hoffmann’s incredible performance as Capote, as well as solid acting from Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., and Chris Cooper. Cooper plays K.B.I. Agent Alvin Dewey. His portrayal is intense, but not over-done.
The cinematography by Adam Kimmel is suitably gray and moody, with many evocative views of the flat Kansas plains, but most of the screen time is spent with the camera focused on Hoffmann – all of it time well spent. The film focuses on Capote’s research on the book “In Cold Blood” and the personal journey that his relationship and identification with killer Perry Smith became (Capote says at one point that it was like they grew up in the same house, and he went out the front door while Perry went out the back), a compelling and complicated relationship that this uncompromising film presents in moving detail. I picked up on this, along with some other comments, that seemed to show how Capote like to make things all about himself, and how he fancied that he’d had some terrible life experiences.
After exploding to meteoric fame with his novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Capote became the New York caf? society’s darling, quite the gay-man-child-bon-vivant. He drank and held court with the best of New York, which just also happened to be the nexus of television in the early 60s. Before long Capote was the quintessential modern celebrity, famous for being famous. And he did it all before our eyes.
Philip Seymour Hoffman does not so much play Capote as become him. And not just in mannerism, no mean feat, but in personality, because we are convinced that Hoffman feels what Capote felt, cries over the lies, accepts his moral failings. For a short story writer-raconteur from New Orleans, Capote found himself at the center of a nationally enthralling multiple homicide, facing the ultimate journalist’s Faustian dilemma: if he perpetrates a lie for the sake of exposing the truth, is he ever worthy of redemption. Capote, in the end, concluded that he wasn’t; he never wrote another book. He descended into drunkenness and died a lonely soul. This is not the stuff of Holly Golightly.
While I haven’t read the biography by Gerald Clarke on which it’s based, the script seems to hit enough salient details to evoke Capote’s frame of mind, without inundating the audience with more than would fit in a feature-length film. I suppose one of my only complaints about the film would be that at times the conversations take on a sheen of Hollywood, saying things for dramatic impact that perhaps might not have been said in real life. But then again, I never met Capote, so who knows for sure.
All in all, this was a deeply engrossing film, and one I would highly recommend, especially if you’re a fan of Truman Capote.