—1. Overview (multimedia)
—2. Overview Basic (dial up speed)
—3. Reviews and Blogs
—4. Cast and Crew
—5. Photo Pages
—6. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—8. Production Notes (pdf)
—9. Spiritual Connections
“Researching this book has changed my life.”
Truman Capote, a gifted writer had already achieved a good deal of fame as the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. He was ensconced among the
Capote is not a full blown biography; it is a look at Capote’s labors in bringing this story to the world. He started off with the idea of writing a magazine article for New Yorker about how the murders affected this small town. He goes to
He spent a great deal of time in the town, becoming friends with a number of the residents. When the murderers, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, were captured and brought back for trial, Capote became obsessed with these two criminals. To be sure there was something monstrous about them, but there was also a vulnerability. As he got to know them, he discovered there were connections between their lives and his.
In the film, we mostly see the relationship that develops between him and Perry Smith. In Smith he sees much of himself. At one point Capote notes that it is as if “Perry and I grew up in the same house. One day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” Capote identifies with the sense of abandonment that makes up Smith’s childhood. He also identifies with Smith’s insecurity that leads to him craving attention of any kind. We see some of this same kind of hunger in Capote as he seeks to be the center of attention in
Capote’s relation with the killers is something of a contradiction. He notes that he’s been accused of using them to get the story for his book. At the same time he’s been accused of being in love with them. He doesn’t see how both could be true. But they are. He is extremely egocentric and, although he has found lawyers for them, is distressed when they get stays of execution, because if slows down his ability to finish the story. At the same time, he knows he will be devastated when they are gone, because they have become such a part of his life.
In the film, we see Capote going back and forth between his two worlds – the world of the literary fame and the world that is inhabited by people such as Smith. It was perhaps a bit upsetting to discover just how much he was familiar with both worlds.
Capote is told in the film, “Be careful of what you do to get what you want.” It ends up that he manages to create an astounding book, but ends up so personally involved that he never seemed to be able to get over it.
On the surface, many will be attracted to the film for the acting. Philip Seymour Hoffman, does a superb job of capturing the well known voice and mannerisms of Truman Capote. Such imitation often invites great praise. It can also invite discussion of whether imitation constitutes good acting. Last year, Jamie Foxx won the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Ray Charles and much the same debate ensued. In both the case of Foxx and now with Hoffman, the portrayals go beyond mere impersonation. In Capote, Hoffman not only nails Capote’s familiar bearing, he takes us into the torment that filled Capote as he wrote the story and in many ways became part of the story. We see the loneliness, the sorrow, the ambition and determination.
In many ways this is a performance-driven film. The work of Hoffman and the supporting cast (especially Catherine Keener and Clifton Collins, Jr.) are what make this film really come alive. But there is a depth to the film that goes beyond the performances. That depth comes from the connection that we see between Capote and the killers. He realizes that as monstrous as the murders were, these two were more like everyone else than they were different. He saw in them a humanity that was damaged and buried, but by no means completely lost.