In 1959, Truman Capote learns of the murder of a Kansas family and decides to write a book about the case. While researching for his novel In Cold Blood, Capote forms a relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith, who is on death row.
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Jean François Heckel,
Famed writer Truman Capote, southern born and bred but now part of the New York City social circle, is growing weary of his current assignment of writing autobiographical type pieces for the New Yorker. After reading a newspaper article about the just occurred November 14, 1959 cold blooded murders of the Clutter family in their rural Kansas home, Truman feels compelled to write about that event as his next article. So he and his personal assistant Nelle Harper Lee, also a southern born New Yorker and an aspiring writer of her own, head to Kansas to research the story first-hand. Truman hopes to use his celebrity status to gain access to whomever he needs, such as to Laura Kinney, a friend of the Clutter daughter she who discovered the bodies, and to Alvin Dewey, the lead police investigator and also a Clutter family friend. If his celebrity doesn't work, Truman will grease the wheels by whatever means necessary. When the police eventually charge suspects, two young men named Dick ... Written by
Mesmerizing Performance in a Complex, Contradictory Film
Like the non-fiction novel and the Richard Brooks film that was made from it, "In Cold Blood," "Capote" focuses on and sympathizes with two killers at the expense of the four murdered members of the Clutter family. Once the viewer gets beyond this sticking point, however, all three works are outstanding, unforgettable experiences. Unlike the book and the original movie, "Capote" does explore the contradictory feelings that author Truman Capote wrestles with as he researches and writes "In Cold Blood." His feelings for Perry Smith, the more "sensitive" of the two killers, are particularly problematic as Capote becomes emotionally close to Smith and helps the men with legal aide that postpones the executions, while at the same time Capote cannot finish his book until Smith and Hickcock are hanged. Praise for Philip Seymour Hoffman's uncanny performance as Truman Capote cannot be overstated and, come awards time, if he does not collect enough accolades to fill his mantel, indictments for film critics and Academy voters would be in order. Hoffman not only captures the mannerisms and voice of Capote, he inhabits the man's soul and expresses his feelings and emotions without histrionics or the type of caricature that mimics often have made of the notoriously fey writer in the past.
Fortunately, Hoffman's performance is only the jewel in a gilded crown of fine writing, excellent direction, and solid supporting performances. "Capote" will send viewers back to their bookshelves to re-read the book and to their video libraries to re-view the 1967 film. Considering the time that Capote spent with the two convicted murderers, questions arise as to why the Richard Brooks film did not have Truman Capote as a character, but rather presented a bland, nameless investigative writer, who wanders through the proceedings without much purpose. The film is so good and so intriguing that questions such as that, and what happened to the writer that Capote lived with? and did Harper Lee write anything beyond "To Kill a Mockingbird?" and did Capote's presence at the execution lead to his alcoholism, his lack of further writing, and eventually his death, and other questions will send viewers to Google as soon as they get home. "Capote" is an outstanding film and possibly the first of the year to be assured of a place on the "10 Best" lists for 2005.
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