Capote

 
Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by:Dan Futterman
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Kenner, Clifton Collins Jr, Chris Cooper, Bruce Bob Balaban, Mark Pellegrino
Released: February 23, 2006
Grade: A+

In 1959, an article in a newspaper caught the attention of 35-year-old writer Truman Capote (Hoffman).  It was about the murder of a family in Halcomb, Kansas and it gave him the inspiration for an article.  He would write about what effect such a tragedy has a small, tight-knit community.

Truman had the reputation of being a gifted writer.  His last novel, Breakfast At Tiffany’s, had just been made into a successful motion picture.  He was also known as an illustrious socialite.  He mingled with Hollywood’s brightest stars and hosted get-togethers at his home.  Many of his celebrity tales were bogus but Truman’s knack for telling for a good story endeared him to almost everyone.

Truman travelled to Halcomb and started researching his article with childhood friend Harper Lee (Keener).  Lee had just finished her own novel (To Kill A Mockingbird) and would soon receive word that it was to be published.  The pair interviewed citizens of Halcomb and developed a close relationship with the chief investigator, Alvin Dewey (Cooper).  Truman realised this story couldn’t be told in a simple magazine article.  He told his editor that he will instead be writing “the non-fiction book of the decade”.

Two months after the killings, Perry Smith (Collins) and Richard Hickcock (Pellegrino) were arrested for the crime.  Truman arranged for continual access to the two men and wanted to get inside their heads.  The inner thoughts of a killer would make for a fascinating read.  What Truman didn’t expect was that the killers would get inside his head…

There is so much to this story and I think of it as one of the great character studies I have ever seen on screen.  A friendship develops between Capote and Smith but in the back of their minds, they know it’s a friendship they’d sacrifice for their own benefit.  I don’t know you show this but Philip Seymour Hoffman and Clifton Collins Jr manage to do so with their stunning performances.  Hoffman deserves all the praise he his receiving but I wish Collins would receive similar attention.  How he was overlooked for an Oscar nomination is beyond me.

As you may have picked up, Capote isn’t a simple biography of Truman’s life nor is a retelling of the killings in Halcomb.  It’s an insight into a man whose mind has become twisted with conflicting thoughts.  If you’re interested more by the crime, you might want to read Capote’s book, titled In Cold Blood, or see the 1967 movie (starring Robert Blake) of the same name.

Capote has been nominated for five Academy Award including nods for best picture, Bennett Miller for best director and Dan Futterman for best adapted screenplay.  You may remember Futterman as he played Val, the straight son of Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in The Birdcage.  The guy can act and write!

Truman Capote may not have approved of this film but I certainly do.  It’s one of this year’s best.