Capote – USA, 2005

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Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote, following the events during the writing of Capote’s non-fiction book In Cold Blood about the inexplicable murders of a Kansas family in 1959. The film was based on Gerald Clarke’s biography Capote and was directed by Bennett Miller.

The movie was released September 30, 2005, to coincide with Truman Capote’s birthday.

Plot:

In Kansas, a family friend discovers the dead bodies of four of the members of the Clutter family. While reading The New York Times, the story of the Clutters rivets writer Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who calls The New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) to tell him that he plans to document the tragedy.

Capote travels to Kansas, inviting childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) to come along. Capote intends to interview those involved with the victims, the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and facilitator. Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s lead detective on the case, brushes him off, but Dewey’s wife Marie (Amy Ryan) is a fan of Capote’s writing and persuades Dewey to invite Capote and Lee to their house for dinner. She is starstruck by Capote’s stories of being on movie sets with film stars.

Dewey warms up to Capote and allows him to view the photographs of the victims. The Deweys, Lee, and Capote are having dinner when the murder suspects, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Richard “Dick” Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), are caught. Flattery, bribery and a keen insight into the human condition facilitate Capote’s visits to the prison where the accused are being held…

Reviews:

Utterly compelling, with Hoffman’s chilling depiction of Capote as a cold-blooded writer who cared only when he was required to, yet was somehow so touched by his subject matter he never wrote another novel and died of alcoholism.

The 1959 murders, which were seemingly motivated by unfulfilled greed that turned to frustrated mindless killing, are presented briefly and resonantly. American society’s drawn out retribution for the family deaths is another fascinating element — with egotistical Capote an unwilling witness and accomplice.

Despite being filmed largely in Canada, the “Kansas” vistas and period atmosphere are stunningly captured. Capote’s focus on the killers as opposed to the victims is a very questionable approach that resonates to this day.

Adrian J Smith, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

Capote is a film of uncommon strength and insight, about a man whose great achievement requires the surrender of his self-respect. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s precise, uncanny performance as Capote doesn’t imitate the author so much as channel him, as a man whose peculiarities mask great intelligence and deep wounds.” Roger Ebert

Cast and characters:

  • Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote
  • Catherine Keener as Nelle Harper Lee
  • Clifton Collins, Jr. as Perry Smith
  • Chris Cooper as Alvin Dewey
  • Bob Balaban as William Shawn
  • Bruce Greenwood as Jack Dunphy
  • Amy Ryan as Marie Dewey
  • Mark Pellegrino as Richard “Dick” Hickock

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