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Capote

Year: 2005
Production Co: A-Line Pictures
Director: Bennett Miller
Writer: Dan Futterman/Gerald Clarke
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper

Where Infamous had a slightly flouncy tone that reflected Truman Capote's flamboyant character, this film puts a tight lid on any such mood. Apart from a few party scenes where Truman (Hoffman) performs for a loving audience of intellectuals, Capote is drab and dour.

It's also much more about the person than the story. Where Infamous was about everything around Capote as much as the man himself, Capote investigates what drove him and made him by turns entertaining, clever, slimy and untrustworthy. It seems to assert that he'd go to any length to assure the success of his project, including pretending to be friends with convicted killer Perry Smith in order to get the juice he needed for his seminal work In Cold Blood.

If you don't know the story of how Truman Capote changed literature, he invented the narrative non-fiction, a true story retold with all the flavour and drama of exciting fiction.

Upon hearing about the brutal home invasion and murder of a farming family in rural Kansas, the Manhattan-based author made several extended trips to the area over the next few years to interview everyone involved - and tread on many of their toes.

We're never quite sure if he feels anything as he befriends one of the incarcerated murderers or if it's all a front to get the information he needs. The only real emotion he shows is when he attends the hanging executions of Smith and his accomplice, but even then we're never sure if it's simply the brutal horror of death that affected Capote so deeply. Whatever transpired in his heart and mind, in real life it appeared to be his undoing as he never completed another book.

Hoffman's performance is indeed brilliant but like Daniel Day Lewis in Infamous as Nell Harper Lee, Keener seeming somehow tired and resigned much like the tone in the rest of the movie.

It's essential viewing if you're interested in the craft of acting, but if you've read the book, seen Infamous or (to a much lesser extent when it comes to the writer himself) even the film adaptation of In Cold Blood you know most of the story.

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