Opening 2 Mar 2006
Sobering, chilling and confusing, but a masterpiece. Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actors’ actor, has done it again. His portrayal of Truman Capote is so perfect it is scary. At every turn Seymour Hoffman has Capote’s combination of innocence, neediness and duplicity down pat. The voice, the femininity, the affectations are all there. Catherine Keener is wonderful as Capote’s colleague, friend and adult-in-residence Harper Lee. Clifton Collins is a revelation as Perry Smith, the beautiful embryonic artist turned murderer, abetted by Mark Pellegrino, as the simple and raunchy Dick Hickock. Oscar winner Chris Cooper confirms his status as one of the best supporting actors of his generation.
The film examines the events that gave birth to Capote’s non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. We go from Capote’s New York City world of jazz, alcohol- and nicotine-fueled parties to a laconic and barren Kansas. We are looking for Capote’s next masterpiece while witnessing the investigation into the senseless murder of the unlucky Clutter family. What we get is a powerful story that asks, “How far should a writer or artist go in pursuit of success?” Through the course of his interviews with Perry Smith over several years, Capote met his low class doppelgänger, and the alternative he saw was not pretty. Yet he kept his incipient love in check and focused only on the prize – a best-seller. It is telling that Capote never published another book after spending six years on In Cold Blood and died in an alcoholic stupor many years later. Not a cheerful film but an excellent film worth seeing. If only to understand the repercussions of getting everything you always wanted as a writer. (Rita Pearson Schwandt)