Capote (15)



Drama (2005)
114mins US

Starring: Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Bennett Miller
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

The true story of the years in Truman Capote's life when the writer became interested, and later obsessed, with drifters Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the two men arrested and charged with the murders of an entire Kansas family. As Capote pursues the suspects, as part of an article for The New Yorker, the debonair writer falls in love with Smith, seriously compromising his objectivity, especially when the time approaches for the killer's execution.

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LondonNet Film Review

Conflicting Interests
Phillip Seymour Hoffman transforms Capote in a truly breathtaking performance...

CapotePhilip Seymour Hoffman delivers a mesmerizing, BAFTA award-winning performance as Truman Capote in Bennett Miller's critically feted feature. The versatile actor, so often relegated to colourful supporting roles, assumes leading man status with aplomb, disappearing entirely beneath the skin of his waspish alter ego.

It's a truly breathtaking metamorphosis: Hoffman effortlessly captures the fey mannerisms and high-pitch voice of Capote, gradually revealing the vanity and insecurities that were ultimately his downfall. The film focuses on the years of Capote's life when he became interested, and later obsessed, with drifters Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), the two men arrested and charged with the murders of an entire Kansas family in November 1959. As Capote pursues the suspects, with a view to writing an article for The New Yorker, the debonair writer strikes up a strangely intense relationship with Smith, seriously compromising his objectivity. He secures the trust of both men by securing them new legal counsel, giving Smith and Hickock hope of an appeal.

What begins as a magazine article soon becomes the meat and bones of a groundbreaking book - In Cold Blood - the non-fiction novel that would become the publishing phenomenon of '60s America. Capote is all too aware of the literary goldmine before him: "Sometimes, when I think how good it could be, I can hardly breathe," he gasps.

Ambition gradually consumes the writer, and he follows the trial of Smith and Hickock to its devastating conclusion, wrecking relationships with long-term lover Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood) and childhood friendship Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). Screenwriter Dan Futterman evokes a richly detailed portrait of tortured genius, following his subject from the giddy heights of celebrity to the pits of despair. In Cold Blood was the last book Capote ever finished.

Emboldened by Hoffman's tour-de-force portrayal, Capote comes across as a brilliant yet tragically flawed creature: sparkling and witty, yet scarred by a boundless capacity for deception and self-deception. "I did everything I could, I truly did," Truman sobs to the two prisoners as they stand on death row. When he repeats this assertion ("There isn't anything I could have done to save them") to Harper, she retorts, "Maybe not, but the fact is, you didn't want to." Indeed.


What better way to end the book than the deaths of the two protagonists? Supporting performances are superlative, including Keener's memorable turn as Lee, whose brush with literary success with To Kill A Mockingbird causes Capote to sneer, "To be honest, I don't see what all the fuss is about," and Collins Jr as the naively trusting prisoner. Smith and Hickock never stood a chance. Both were lambs to the slaughter, sacrificed at the altar of Capote's ruthless pursuit of adulation.

Sophie Abell


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