Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring:||Philip Seymour Hoffman
Clifton Collins Jr.
|Producer:||Dan Futterman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Caroline Baron|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Classics|
“Just be honest in what you write” is a creed that the title character espouses to all of his friends and colleagues and simultaneously attempts to live by in the biography picture “Capote”. This man’s intriguing way of being vulnerable with everybody he meets helps bring down their defenses and causes them be open and honest with him. But whose interests does he ultimately have in mind?
Based on true events from the life of author Truman Capote, this story begins November 15, 1959 when Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reads a newspaper article about the brutal murder of a family in Kansas. As a writer for The New Yorker, Capote initially intends on writing a piece for his magazine, but during his four years of research on the event decides to make his account into a non-fictional piece of literature, entitled In Cold Blood. His devotion to telling this story makes him a friend to not only the townspeople of Holcomb, but also an intimate acquaintance to one of the murderers.
Due to the nature of the event that Capote is researching, violent images and incidents are portrayed. Some are static shots or photos, while another sequence shows moments from the actual murder. They are quite explicit and pretty disturbing. There is also a scene depicting an execution by hanging. Aside from this, there are is also some foul language, including an instance of the Lord’s name being taken in vain.
This film is clearly a character-driven piece, and Hoffman’s performance is ultimately center stage. He doesn’t seem to miss a beat, maintaining his chosen interpretation of Capote throughout the entire film. The strongest choice is with the effeminate voice that Hoffman chooses, depicting how Capote is said to have actually talked. In shots where Capote isn’t speaking, it was hard not to imagine Hoffman’s usual voice, but once he starts speaking that distraction tends to go away.
The screenplay is interesting, too, in that it weaves a clear plot into this slice of one man’s life. The writing for this movie successfully shares the nuances and characteristics of Capote with a clear story build up to the event of the Supreme Court’s decision on the fate of the murderers. The credits explain that this film is based on true events, but also admits that there are fictional elements included.
The biggest subtlety surrounding Capote’s character in this film is his relationship with Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), author of To Kill A Mockingbird, and with his friend and fellow writer, Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood). In the beginning, Capote refers to Nelle as his assistant, but she is depicted as the best friend of Capote. The relationship with Jack is also a close friendship, but seems to have a kind of romantic tenor to it as well.
It was moving to see a man who could be such a sensitive and caring person, even to a brutal murderer. Capote was sincerely consumed with his research for this book and cared about those he interviewed, but eventually I began questioning some of his motives. Although Capote is depicted as very sincere and loving, he is also quite self-consumed.
“Capote” is a well made film and easily sustained my interest throughout. It doesn’t delve into much else of Truman Capote’s life, aside from the time he spent on this book, but does give some insight into just what he was like. Overall, I didn’t walk away with too much, but it did provide something interesting to think about.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None