Directed by: Bennett Miller
Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins,
Jr., Chris Cooper, Amy Ryan
Released by: Sony Classics
Short: Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a consuming
performance as Truman Capote, done up and then
undone by his most famous work.
Capote and the Crime in
By Andrew Bender
fields. Snow. Barn. Farmhouse. Dead body in the bedroom.
to a New York soirée awash in cocktails and cigarettes,
where Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) preens, charms
and holds court, ever the bon vivant. But Capote also
has a serious side, and he is drawn to the Kansas farming
town where the four members of the Clutter family were
murdered, to write about the incident’s effects
on the community. The result became the seminal true-crime
novel In Cold Blood, perhaps Capote’s most
is always an engrossing actor, but here he’s outdone
himself. A grisly farm town murder might seem an odd subject
for the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a mincing Alabaman with a voice that never leaves the upper
register, gone so thoroughly New York that he pointedly
announces the provenance of his scarf (Bergdorf’s).
Yet Capote finds communion in this community, and, surprisingly,
with one of the two murderers; Perry Smith and Capote share
an artistic sensibility. It is this relationship—and
its demise when Smith is put to death—that leads Capote
to a debilitating depression.
cast provides a fine foil for Hoffman’s Capote.
Catherine Keener is proving to be one of America’s
most versatile actresses; here she plays Capote’s
traveling companion and confidante Harper Lee (author
of To Kill a Mockingbird). Chris Cooper and Amy
Ryan are well matched as the Kansas sheriff and his wife,
and Clifton Collins Jr. as Smith sure knows how to humanize
there’s any fault with the film, it is that
the pacing tends to drag, especially toward the middle.
At times it is filmmaking of the piercing glance
and the pregnant pause, but somehow this feels writerly,
hard for us to argue with the choice.