Monday, April 27, 2009
Effete is actually the word that describes Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote. He is short, seemingly soft-spoken and speaks with hushed nasally lisp. There was a parallel between the character and the visual aspects of this film, which were bland and unappealing. If not for the exceptional acting, I would not consider recommending this film.
Capote recollects events that led to the non-fiction book In Cold Blood, written by Truman Capote and published in 1966. The book recounts events that transpired on November 15, 1959. The shocking murder of a wealthy farmer (Herb Clutter), his wife and two children made national news. The film follows Truman Capote in his research leading to the publication of his book. The film concentrates more on the story of Capote than the crime being covered, which is where the story really lies.
Lies. That was an interesting word to end the last paragraph with. Lies seem to be Capote's currency. His ability to brag about the title of his book to his cronies while remaining emotionless when telling one of the murderers (Perry Smith, played by Clifton Collins, Jr.) that he has not yet thought of a name demonstrate the lengths Capote was willing to go in order to get his story. The truth did not dwell in Capote (at least not in the film). It was secondary to his goal of writing the book he intended to write. Flashes of that cold calculated driven part of Capote's personality were evident during an exchange with Perry, where Capote reveals the true nature of their relationship.
The film Capote captures much of the essence of Truman Capote through the tremendous acting of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite actors. The time frame of this film covers six years, which allowed plenty of opportunity to explore other aspects of Capote's existence, which were only briefly touched on. It seemed like a closer examination of Capote's other activities might have produced some interest. As the film stands, there were great stretches of the film where the pacing seemed slow, tedious and bland.
In contrast to the slow stretches, great insights into Capote's background were revealed in conversations he had with people whom he appeared to be manipulating. It was interesting to see Capote reveal intimate parts of his own history in order to win people over. Many times, the thoughts offered by Capote were evident as an attempt to curry favor or demonstrate his own empathy. It was an effort to find common ground upon which to build a relationship which he did not intend to pursue. These telling snippets were the best example of the writing Dan Futterman had to offer. Futterman's screenplay was based upon Capote's biography, written by Gerald Clarke.
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