Retro Review: Capote

Who was Truman Capote? What drove this man to write the legendary true-crime novel, “In Cold Blood”?

In the new film Capote, you can’t really classify the film as a bio-pic but a sliver of one man’s very dynamic life.

The film explores what happened to Truman Capote (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) when he ventured deep into Kansas in the winter of 1959.

Capote was fascinated by the murder of a Kansas family by two drifters. He never realized that it would change his life, forever.

This is a very different kind of subject matter for the author of the novel “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and a complete departure from what he knows.

At this time, Capote is the toast of high society in New York, a highly respected journalist, celebrated novelist and openly gay but now standing in the middle of the Kansas wasteland he must reach deep inside of himself to find the soul of this story. The soul of that story, he believes, seems to lie within the mind of recently captured killer, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.).

 

As history states, Capote was never the same after his experiences in Kansas and after he wrote his most famous novel, “In Cold Blood”. What happened to this man in the winter of 1959?

BAFFLING … Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener.

Capote” the film’s soul lies in the dynamic performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman who shines as this prolific writer who basically gave birth to the modern “true crime” novel.

He is electric as throughout the film we always see Capote and very rarely see Hoffman. This for me was hard because over the years of getting to know Hoffman on screen, I was hard pressed to forget his very awkward performance in 1997’s “Boogie Nights”. Mind you, there has been a lot of character performances that have made me respect the man as an actor but I never was a fan. That is until now.

I was also quite blown away by the simplicity of the production and the quietness of the film. I have always said that often in film the quiet scenes speak a lot more then the ones heavy laden with dialogue. That is very evident here. I loved the lack of a musical score and the atmosphere rich without it.

I also loved that the film showed the deconstruction of Capote the man as he got more and more involved with the case.

My only disappointment was the fact that the film didn’t allow for the audience to get to know the man a little before Kansas. There is only one scene that shows Capote, the flamboyant and arrogant but that barely comes across in the allotted time. I think that the filmmakers needed to give us more of this side of the man so we could really be moved by his downfall.

Placing that aside, the film is an amazing look at a sliver of this man’s life. I just wish it would have cut deeper.

4.5 out of 5

So Says the Soothsayer.

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