Finally got around to watching this, possibly the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s greatest performance.
One of the greatest writers in 1950s America decides that his best novel would be a biography following the hideous murder of an entire family by two men, and the trial that came after. What he doesn’t expect, in his overconfidence, is how the experience would change him.
Ooft, how does one follow Conjuring 2 and Gods of Egypt with Capote without showering it with praise because its actually good?
Capote is based off the true events that the writer experienced when researching his novel In Cold Blood that was published in 1967, it is directed by Bennett Miller who you might recognise from directing 2014’s Foxcatcher which… left me feeling cold. With some recommendations however, I watched Capote with some trepidation.
Lead star Phillip Seymour Hoffman out does himself as Truman Capote, very deserving of his Academy Award; delivering an evolving and utterly committed performance throughout the film. Miller’s rather stark and uneventful film-making makes Hoffman’s performance even more distinct and apparent; you can see every nuance and suggestion between each word spoken. Capote starts out as a self-assured, confident crowd-pleaser, self obsessed with his word to the point of blindness to other people’s feelings, perhaps burying his own insecurities from the past while doing so. The events he witnesses however start to break through his professional gaudiness.
Through Capote’s experiences the film delivers some hard truths and morally grey areas. During his time with the two murderers, he becomes friends with them, and even after their obvious sentence of death by hanging is given, he actively seeks out a lawyer for them! Not so much for their lives… but so he can research his book for longer!
Serious appreciation should be given also to the treatment of Capote’s sexuality. While it is referred to, it is only by Capote himself. A lesser film would have every character bluntly express some feelings towards him, positive or negative.
The performances are top notch, and the story itself is well worth telling (unlike the macabre Foxcatcher) which makes Capote an intense and compelling experience. It is quite a drab film, however; Bennett Miller shoots everything very frankly and without panache. I would say his aforementioned later film had more style to it, and while Capote could be seen as a realistic biopic and thus deserving of the sober lens… some flare could have been added.
I also feel that Chris Cooper always gets typecast, once again as the authority figure, designed to oppose Capote’s off-kilter methods. Supposedly, the two men weren’t at such loggerheads in real life…
A fantastic film for those looking for great performances. Phillip Seymour Hoffman can be remembered with great clarity and appreciation through this film alone.