Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the title role. The movie itself was based on the biography called Capote by Gerald Clarke. The movie was filmed mostly in Manitoba, in the autumn of 2004, and was released on September 30, 2005, to coincide with Truman Capote's 81 birthday. The film opens in Kansas with the discovery of the dead bodies of four of the members of the Clutter family by a family friend. While reading The New York Times, Truman Capote is riveted by the story of the Clutters and calls William Shawn, then the editor of The New Yorker, to announce that he will personally document the tragedy. He travels to Kansas with his childhood friend Harper Lee. Lee was then in the process of writing To Kill a Mockingbird which the film refers to several times. Capote sets about interviewing those involved with the victims, the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and interpreter of rural life. When the murderers are apprehended, Capote is
Release Date: September 30, 2005
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"Capote" showcases the kind of title role — the late author Truman Capote — that could have turned into a cartoonish caricature had it been cast with a less-skillful, less-subtle performer.
But character actor Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Cold Mountain," "Magnolia"), who manages to capture some of the more eccentric aspects of Capote, including his soft voice and lispy Southern drawl, completely disappears into the role.
His very credible performance propels this effective, albeit sometimes too-aloof, drama, which covers the six-year period of Capote's life when he researched and wrote "In Cold Blood," the true-crime best seller that popularized the "nonfiction novel," but also effectively ended his writing career.
According to this version of events, Capote was supposed to be writing an article for New Yorker magazine, and became fascinated by the murder of a family of four in tiny Holcomb, Kan.
So, accompanied by childhood friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), whose novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" had not yet been published, he traveled to the Midwest to report the story and garner some material for a possible follow-up to "Breakfast at Tiffany's."
Both encounter some initial resistance from the locals, though Capote's fame and reputation as a writer does get him some much-needed access to the investigation — some of it begrudgingly — and to investigating agent Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper).
However, a few conflicts of interest arise when Truman befriends Dewey's two suspects. In particular, Capote is drawn to the charismatic Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), with whom he feels some kinship (based on their respective pasts; both were neglected and abused).
Director Bennett Miller deliberately keeps the audience at a distance, which does make the film feel a little cold. And a few subplots are brought up and then quickly dropped, such as Capote's relationship with Jack Dunphy (played by the under-utilized Bruce Greenwood). But the film does get interesting during the scenes featuring the jail and prison conversations between Capote and Smith.
Hoffman's perfect re-creation of Capote will deservedly garner some Oscar talk, but Collins ("Traffic") brings some much-needed intensity to the material.
So does Keener's feisty Lee, who pretty much disappears during the film's second half but still manages to make a strong impression.
"Capote" is rated R for a few, brief scenes of strong violence (shootings and a knife-slashing), scattered use of strong profanity and some sexual dialogue, some graphic gore, and use of a few racial epithets. Running time: 110 minutes.
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