Capote (2005)

DVD Cover (Sony Home Entertainment)
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Overall Rating 73%
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Connections: Person: Truman Capote

In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 08, 2005
Being born and raised in Alabama, I know a great deal about Truman Capote. His parents sent him to Alabama to live with relatives, as a child, which is where he met his lifelong friend and author of the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird", Harper Lee. In many ways, Alabama helped shape Truman Capote and all of his stories, even "In Cold Blood". He was and is one of the greatest writers the world has ever known, and he was continually reinventing his style for the masses. "Capote" tells the story of Truman Capote as he wrote his most famous novel, "In Cold Blood", about the brutal murders that took place in a small Kansas town. The film opens with Truman reading about the murders in the newspaper and closes with Truman watching the men responsible for the crimes executed a few years later. "Capote" is an unflinching and fascinating study of a man so consumed with his need for approval and success that he would go to any lengths to obtain them. "Capote" is also the story of the relationship between Capote and convicted murderer Perry Smith, with Truman growing to love the man as both a story and a friend. "Capote" is one of the best films of the year, and is an almost certain awards beacon for the underrated Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Hoffman stars as Capote, and lives and breathes the role. It is the spitting image of an actor totally embodying a role, and no one does it quite like Hoffman. Whereas Jamie Foxx seemed more like an imitation, but a damned good one, Hoffman becomes Capote - he has the expressions, the speech, the mannerisms, and the vanity down to a science, and he simply drips acting perfection. It is one of the single greatest male acting performances in the history of film. "Capote" deals with the murder of a prominent Kansas family by Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), who only wanted money and wound up shooting the entire family in the face with shotguns. Capote travels to the town with his friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) to research, dig up some information, and chat up the local sheriff, Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper). The film continues as the men are apprehended, with Capote sparking a relationship with both me, especially Smith, to whom Capote feels a real connection. As he puts it, "It's as if we both grew up in the same house. I stood up and went out the front door, and he went out the back." As the film progresses and "In Cold Blood" becomes more and more of a reality, the problem becomes the execution itself. If the men are not executed, Capote has no ending for his story. If they are executed, will Capote be able to live with the guilt of what he has done? Until the end of the film, Capote misleads Perry Smith into believing that the book is going to be about the men and their humanity, when in actuality, the novel is more of a non-fiction novel about the atrocity of the crimes committed. The films ends with the execution and Capote finally getting an ending for his novel. But, is it what he wanted?

This film is all about relationships, mainly between Capote and the rest of the characters in the film. His relationship with Perry Smith is the most prominent, as he and Smith talk as if they are one in the same. We get the sense that Capote might be using Smith, but then we see his remarkable breakdown at the end of the film that suggests Capote really did care for him. There is the relationship between Capote and his partner Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood), which is strained due to Capote constantly focusing his attention to Kansas. There is the relationship between Capote and Harper Lee. We get the sense that Harper Lee loves Capote, but not Capote's behavior. She disapproves of the way he uses Perry Smith and she knows that he is not working his hardest to see that then men are not executed. It is also nice to see Capote's subtle jealousy over the success of her book, "To Kill A Mockingbird", which culminates with the premiere of the film and an inebriated Capote spatting off, "I don't know what all of the fuss is about." There is also another interesting relationship between Capote and Sheriff Dewey. We see that Dewey respects what Capote does, but he does not like Capote's initial attempts to get the men lawyers. Though Dewey says he will hunt Capote down if he helps the men avoid execution, he still agrees to allow Capote to see anything he wants to see. I cannot explain this relationship, but it certainly adds more intrigue.

As previously mentioned, Philip Seymour Hoffman is nothing short of unmatchable as Truman Capote. Everything is perfect. In supporting roles, Catherine Keener is quite and powerful as Harper Lee, also doing a pitch-perfect job of capturing Lee's quiet intelligence and compassion. She and Hoffman make beautiful music together. Chris Cooper turns in another fine performance as Sheriff Dewey, bringing a little depth to the role that could have been overlooked. The surprise here was from Clifton Collins, Jr., who has been visible in tons of films over the past few years, in small and thankless roles - usually portraying the crazy Hispanic or comic relief. As Perry Smith, he is just as frightening as he is innocent. We see him as this quiet and well-spoken kid who was capable of such monstrous and evil acts of murder. Do we grow to care about Perry Smith? In a sense, of course we do. He is young and he seems to incapable of killing. Then, as he describes what he did to the family, all of our sympathy falls away and we are left with reality. If Hoffman is a sure bet for Best Actor, Collins should certainly be a favorite for Best Supporting Actor - it is difficult for me to think of another actor who made a killer so endearing. In fact, all of the actors here do extraordinary jobs with conveying the intelligence of the roles. Even Bruce Greenwood and Bob Balaban, in basically inconsequential roles, provide strength and drama with their performances.

If "Capote" was missing anything, it was minutes. I wanted to see more of Capote. I wanted to see those days after the execution. I want to see more of those nice little subtleties that Hoffman managed to bring. I also want to credit director Bennett Miller for sticking to the story. The subtle elements were what made it so amazing. Watch how Capote slowly starts drinking more and more throughout the film, and then we learn that he died from complications from alcoholism. I guess you could say "In Cold Blood" killed him. There are some performances that sink to the bottom, and there are some performances that come and go; and then there are performances that seem destined to stick around for years and years. We will never forget Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in "To Kill A Mockingbird". We will never forget Rock Hudson in "Breakfast at Tiffanys". And, as far as I am concerned, we will never forget Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Capote". This is the kind of performance that generates awards by the barrel full, and all will be well deserved.

ThunderStruck5a #1: ThunderStruck5a - added 08/14/2007, 02:38 AM
no matter how historically accurate this movie is or how well Seymour Hoffman played that part this movie was SO boring. The second he started talking, i started hating it and not caring to watch the rest of it (which i managed to do anyway). I expected so much better because i heard a lot of talk about how good it was. Its good to take a nap to. 3/10
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 08/14/2007, 11:07 AM
BORING?! Wow. I was on the edge of my seat for most of this film. I don't know -- phenomenal performances keep me entertained, and I just couldn't help but wait and see how Hoffman was going to play the next scene -- same thing for Catherine Keener. Call it imitation of whatever -- Philip Seymour Hoffman, in this film, delivers one of the finest male performances of the past 30-years.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #3: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 08/15/2007, 08:39 PM
I enjoyed this just as much - heavily engaged by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote. Hoffman is never less than amazing, and I think Catherine Keener is an angel. Both gave wonderful performances as said, with Hoffman spectacularly embodying Capote.
Rik #4: Rik - added 10/11/2008, 06:39 PM
I love this movie.

The other version of Truman Capote's movie had Truman making out with Perry Smith. And Truman was played by the same short guy from The Mist.
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