Capote (2005) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Amy Ryan, Mark Pellegrino
Director: Bennett Miller
Screenplay: Dan Futterman (based on the book by Gerald Clarke)
It's not quite a biography about famous writer Truman Capote so much as a biographical account of the making of his most famous work, In Cold Blood, during the 1960s. It would be a landmark work, not only for Capote, but also for the literary community as a whole, influencing the way books are written for the next few years and beyond. It was a work of non-fiction that played out like a full-fledged novel, about two convicted killers that brutally murdered a family of four in their home in a small Kansas town. Capote was called in to write an article about the incident, but felt the subject matter would be better served as a book, so he took the time to interview as many people as possible, including the two killers themselves.
Capote is a marvelous character study, crafted with skill by first-time creators of drama, director Bennett Miller and screenwriter Dan Futterman. They truly breath life into the man that Capote was, a larger-than-life celebrity, even in his own mind, and a spinner of the finest yarns you'd be lucky to ever hear. Philip Seymour Hoffman (Along Came Polly, Cold Mountain) jumps from A-list character actor into full-fledged leading man material here with a standout performance as Truman. It takes a few scenes to get used to Hoffman's demeanor, but he manages to make the character well-rounded and dastardly likeable.
Capote isn't shown as a great hero or champion, and in fact, it's interesting just how many of his personality flaws are showcased, including his inability to tell the truth when confronted by an unpleasant situation. Some of the film's most revealing moments come when we see Truman knowingly lie, either because of fear, shame, or for his own amusement, giving us a peek into the psyche of the complex man that he truly was.
You don't have to be intimately familiar with the life or works of Truman Capote to fully enjoy Capote as a film, as Miller does a very good job in setting up the movie and making it seem like a straightforward drama, much in the same vein that Capote himself was able to do with the events of "In Cold Blood". Fantastic acting, gorgeous period costumes, nicely photographed, and realistically presented, Capote emerges from modest character piece into one of 2005's finest, wittiest, and most fascinating films.
©2006 Vince Leo