Film: Capote


Cast includes: Philip Seymour Hoffman (Flawless, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), Chris Cooper (Seabiscuit)
Genre: Biographical drama (2005)

In brief: In 1959, Truman Capote was a popular writer with The New Yorker magazine. He had recently completed the novel and screenplay, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Looking for his next project, he spots an article in the paper about a family of four, who were brutally murdered in their home in Holcomb, Kansas. Without a second thought, Capote and friend, Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird) head for Holcomb to do a New Yorker article on how the murders were affecting the town’s people. But after the killers are caught, Capote has the opportunity to spend some time with the prisoners, especially Perry Smith. This is when he realizes that his project is too big for a magazine article. He tells his publisher, “I’ve spent hours with these men, and it has changed my live. When people read the book I’m going to write, I believe they will be similarly affected.” And so begins the more than four years that Truman Capote spends developing one of the most powerful non-fiction works of the 20th century.

No matter what you already think of Truman Capote, this film will probably leave you more ambivalent. The film is not intended to give you easy answers. Capote was a truly conflicted person… with some amazing gifts. If you’ve seen In Cold Blood, you will probably remember it as one of the most disturbing films you’ve ever experienced. It has no special effects, and the level of violence is actually far less than many modern films. However, the character development and the plot details were so powerful that this film stands out, despite its simplicity. Capote does have some violent scenes but does not attempt to compete with the emotional intensity of In Cold Blood.

One of the producers on this film is Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also plays Capote. The film probably could not have been made without Hoffman in the lead. He is such a versatile and convincing character actor that he becomes Capote right before your eyes… including all of the irritating Capote affectations. You will come to understand why Capote had so few friends left when he died, but you will also appreciate the unique contribution he made to literature and film.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

Popped kernels for excellent script, excellent acting (especially PSH), in-depth character development... just an excellent movie.

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