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.
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
The car they use to drive around town keeps changing from a turquoise Chevy to an earlier model yellow and white Chevy. Sun shades on the windows are visible from inside the turquoise car, while the yellow car has none. See more »
A Slow But Chilling Portrayal of The Toll It Took To Understand the Horror
"Capote" opens up as a ghostly recreation. Trepidation and dread haunt the screen from the glimpses of the crime scene, deep in the heartland (Manitoba beautifully standing in for Kansas) where we gradually become aware of violence frozen in isolation, recalling that this crime helped set up the template for portrayals of horror.
The sudden shift to Truman Capote's milieu in New York City is a jarring juxtaposition but is equally spooky because with Philip Seymour Hoffman's brilliantly uncanny portrayal we are literally seeing an apparition. While it is a bit frustrating at first as we get almost no insight into what attracted Capote to the story, especially as we see the details of him getting organized, embarking on a long train ride into his heart of darkness and being initially brushed off by the locals, but the pay off eventually comes, if very slowly.
There's initial jokes on the puffed-up dandy in anti-wonderland who owes a great debt to his old Southern friend the soon to be noted novelist Harper Lee (a no nonsense Catherine Keener) for regularly puncturing his pretenses and briskly bridging the cultural gap so he can begin worming his way into the community's trust (and getting condescended to in return about her book and the movie adaptation and dryly dismissed by his lover as more "manly" than he is).
I didn't start to take seriously that the point of the film was "In Cold Blood"s effect on him until we see him sneak into the funeral home and start to psychologically absorb the murders and challenge folks to take him seriously despite his way of talking and affected mannerisms.
A key transitional scene is almost bizarre when Capote's fame does help him here, as the wife of Chris Cooper's solid, clear-eyed, suspicious sheriff, Amy Ryan in a very atypical for her '50's housewife role, gushes over the writer in their midst (even though his books had been banned from the local library) and brokers credibility to get him crucial, exclusive contact with the still not charmed investigators and, suddenly, with one of the murderers. Amidst perfect recreations of the late '50's, we see Capote learn to manipulate his fame to get him further access, that is a harbinger of celebrity journalists to come.
The film then shifts to an extended "Dead Man Walking" chapter, as Capote enters into a symbiotic relationship with Perry Smith, seductively and captivatingly played by Clifton Collins Jr, particularly in the build up to trying to understand the actual crime. We see Capote begin to develop a new kind of journalism even before he writes a word as he gets personally involved in the physical, mental and legal health of the murderers -- all for the benefit of his book. Key actions of his recall the cynical reporter in Billy Wilder's acerbic "Ace in the Hole (The Big Carnival)," first released eight years before these events, as we see Capote intentionally lie, manipulatively get involved and selectively let out bits and pieces of his own past to get others to trust and confide in him. His life itself becomes a nonfiction novel.
But the last chapter of the film goes into unique territory, as we see the two worlds Capote has been experiencing collide in his head and take a toll on his relationships, productivity and health. The completion of the book has a relentless parallel with the cycles of justice and legal revenge with no spiritual release, just a book release, and self-aggrandizement, even as he invents a new form of personal reportage to great acclaim. The film searingly emphasizes the internal haunting Capote experiences, with his photographic recall, by leaving out that he did continue the public appearance of his wild ways, as 1966 was also the year of his notorious black and white masquerade ball.
The atmospheric music heightens the spooky feeling that there's more happening below the surface and helps keep us thinking.
The cinematography is exquisite throughout.
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