Capote (2005) by Bennett Miller

23 09 2010

Director: Bennett Miller
Cast: Allie Mickelson, Kelci Stephenson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Craig Archibald
Writers: Dan Futterman (screenplay) and Gerald Clarke (book)
Music: Mychael Danna
Production: Canada, USA, 2005
Runtime: 114 minutes

After a long time I finally have some time to sit and write down my reviews. This time I will talk about Capote, a movie that I pass out for many years but I was able to find it and watch it last week. This biographical film is about Truman Capote, one of the most well know writers of the United States, following the events during the writing of Capote´s nonfiction book called “In cold Blood”. The movie was based on “Capote” a biographical book about the writer, written by Gerald Clarke.

The film starts in Kansas with the discovery of the dead bodies of the Clutters Family by a family friend (15 November 1959). Some days later Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reads the news about the assassination on The New York Times, he was on the search for new material to start his new novel, so he calls William Shawn, the editor of The New York Times, to announce that he will write about the Clutters family assassination. He finally travels to Kansas with his childhood friend Harper Lee, another famous writer who was in the process of getting her last novel (To Kill a Mockingbird) published. When they arrive to Holcomb, a rural town, they start to interviewing people close to the family; they were able to get the diary of Nancy Clutters (one of the family members killed) from close friend. A month later (30 December 1959) the police find the two suspects, Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, Capote wanted to interview the murderers but the detective running the case, Alvin Dewey, brushed him off. Dewey´s wife, however, was a fan of Capote´s writing and persuade her husband to invite Capote and Lee to have dinner at their home. Capote manages to capture Dewey´s attention with stories about famous movies stars, which facilitates Capote´s visit to the prison where the suspects were held. Upon meeting the suspects Capote discover that one of them, Perry Smith, is not a common murderer, he doesn’t look like a person that would kill someone. Capote decides to find out what draw Perry to kill the Clutter family so after the trial and conviction he spent the following years visiting Perry at the prison where he learns about his life. After a while, Capote start to feel emotionally attached to Perry and fells sympathy as they both had a difficult childhood.

During Capote´s vacation to Europe, he writes the first three parts of the book, but for him to fish it he would have to know what really happened the night of the assassinations. Until now, Perry refused to tell anyone the whole story but because his sentenced was near, he decides to tell Capote the truth. Their legal strategy was to appeal for redemption to the Supreme Court but they were denied so Perry and Dick are hanged. Capote attempts the hanging and this experience leads him into a very deep depression, he feels that he could have done more to stop the hanging. The movie ends with Truman looking at some photos and writings that Perry gave him.

Now let’s talk about the great performance of Hoffman, he manages to portrait Truman very well, the way Truman talks and moves is well played, also you can see the fall of Truman as a writer as he is drove into heavy drinking, obviously he was selected for this part because of his resemblance with the real Truman. I can´t recall right now another actor that can perform so many different characters and at the same time make them absolutely different from each other. In addition, we have to remind our self that Hoffman is not the first option in Hollywood directors, I have seen so many movies with Hoffman playing these secondary characters, but still he manages to play them great.

One thing that this movie manages to do well is to give the audience a properly atmosphere, right from the start you will be caught into the story. However, one of my favorite scenes and probably the most important is when Perry confesses to Truman what happened the night of the assassination. Because it’s a secret confession the shots were filmed in close range shots, with some flash backs that puts you into the situation Perry lived. This scene shows you what kind of person is Perry; he is not the killed that appears in movies or TV, those who are sadists and only want to kill people. Perry has that type of personality, due to his dramatic childhood, that in certain situations he could lose his mind, he is not crazy but he is unstable in some situations. Also something that we can see thought-out the whole movie is the mental transition of Truman, he starts to get more depress as the execution of Perry becomes more imminent, he start heavy drinking and start to isolate himself from the world. In real life, “In cold Blood” was the last novel Truman was able to finish. Capote died due to problems related to drug addiction and heavy drinking.

Well we reach the end of this review. I know I haven’t post in some time but some personal stuff came and I couldn’t write the reviews but I will try to post more often. For the next review I will bring one of the first movie about vampires, Nosferatu (1922) directed by F.W. Murnau. Yes, I’m going old school on the next post, have a good night/day.

By Sebastián Nadilo

Trailer: Capote

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