Capote (2005) Directed by Bennett Miller. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Chris Cooper, Clifton Collins Jr., Mark Pellegrino, Bruce Greenwood and Bob Balaban.
Directed by Bennett Miller, Capote is a biographical drama telling the story of Truman Capote’s research into writing his influential non-fiction book, In Cold Blood. With a screenplay adapted by Dan Futterman (also known as an actor), the film is perhaps best remembered for the distinction of its central performance; an Oscar-winning Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title role.
Bennett Miller immediately captures our attention by introducing us to Seymour Hoffman’s Capote in a social setting, surrounded by people in thrall of his wit. It’s a charming intro that quickly acquaints us and establishes his character. From there, we travel to Kansas with Capote, who is joined by Catherine Keener playing To Kill a Mockingbird author, Harper Lee – as together they begin to investigate the details around the shocking murder of a local family, which eventually brings him into direct contact with those responsible.
Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote is so captivating, that it sometimes detracts from the narrative of the film around it. We yearn to learn more of Capote, the man; yet the focus isn’t on him or his life, but the details of his research into the story behind his book. It isn’t that the events of the film aren’t of interest, its just that the performance is played with such conviction, that we find ourselves pining to know more about him. Indeed, some of the best scenes are glimpses of Capote holding court in bars with friends, in which we see his larger-than-life personality coming to the fore. Also, scenes with Catherine Keener, and Truman’s partner, Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood), tease us with the impression of an extremely playful, mischievous man.
Adam Kimmel drains colour from his beautiful cinematography to achieve a look more fitting with the solemn tone of the piece, which is an emotion that intensifies the more entrenched Capote becomes in the lives of the killers. The film evokes a complex emotional response as Capote unveils a degree of humanity in one of the murderers (Clifton Collins Jr.) that forces him (and we, the audience) into a certain amount of conflict.
With subject matter that is likely to weigh heavily for a good time afterwards, Capote is a film that is rich, not only in its attention to period detail, but in its performances. Seymour Hoffman is nothing short of excellent and is backed-up by a range of fine supporting turns that contribute vastly to this stern, emotionally draining drama. 3.5/5