Bennett Miller's film Capote should encourage a resurgence of interest in Truman Capote's writing, especially In Cold Blood. Capote's notorious, groundbreaking "nonfiction novel" chronicles his investigation of the murders of a family of four in Holcomb, Kansas, in 1959, and Miller's film examines the events that led to the volume's publication.
At first glance, the story of an artist with compassion for prisoners would seem like a story of Christian virtue. And Capote, as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, certainly demonstrates compassion for Perry Smith, the killer he befriends during his visits while researching a story for his next book.
But Miller's film is not a tale of virtue. As Capote interviews Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.), cozying up to him in his death-row cell, he loses his way. With the support of The New Yorker, which serialized his story, Capote gains Smith's confidence through lies, even as his affection for the man complicates his feelings and his work. And ultimately, he exploits him, driven by an ego swollen with the praise for his previous work. Haunted by the nightmares of his childhood, Capote was a man who kept his troubled heart concealed. His mind was an enigma, but his talent was undeniable. Viewers will respond with conflicting feelings about the man as they watch his fascinating fluctuations between pity and pride, sympathy and selfishness.
Hoffman, who has earned critics' praise for performances in films such as The Big Lebowski, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Almost Famous and Punch-Drunk Love, takes on this difficult task and succeeds brilliantly, completely transforming himself into a bold and eccentric character with a voice like an infant's whine and a hunger for the spotlight. He's given strong ...1
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