Wednesday, March 01, 2006

CAPOTE: Made-for-Oscars Movie

Time: 115 mins
Rating: * * *
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener
THERE is no doubt that this movie is made with the Oscars in mind. The superb acting, the detailed look and feel all add up to Oscar-nomination material. However, this biographical drama of American writer Truman Capote does not touch our heart-strings the way Walk The Line (reviewed below) does.

It is a well-made, meticulously researched film but its emotional level does not quite match the dramatic level of the story. We get great insights into the title character and his struggle to complete his bestseller, In Cold Blood, but not many people in the audience can relate to Capote or even like him. This movie is about the price the author has to pay for getting too deeply involved in his subject matter while writing his book.

The story opens in 1959 with the brutal murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas. When Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) reads the news, he decides to write a magazine article about the impact of the murder on the small Midwest town. Heading for Holcomb with his good friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), Capote befriends lead investigator Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) and his star-struck wife (Amy Ryan) and charms them into giving him inside information on the case. Capote gets to view the coffins of the victims and even manages to interview the killers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) in their prison cells.

The personal interviews, in exchange for providing them a lawyer, soon develop into a deep bond between Capote and Smith. Capote, the famous writer of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, is an ‘out-of-the-closet’ gay and he has a live-in lover in Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood). His ‘toil’ on the book seems to be taking a toll his health as he wrestles with a dilemma: He cares for Perry Smith and yet he has to ‘exploit’ and ‘betray’ him to complete his book. And in the time he takes to finish In Cold Blood in 1967, his childhood friend Harper Lee has published her famous novel, To Kill A Mockingbird.

This film, directed by Bennett Miller (from a screenplay by Dan Futterman, based on Gerald Clarke’s book Capote), is about how an author works on a story — and how the story ‘consumes’ him. Seymour Hoffman does a terrific job of capturing Capote’s speech and mannerisms. His Capote is a small man with a huge ego and is not a likeable person. Yet his wit attracts the attention of everyone wherever he goes.Ms Keener is also memorable as Capote’s friend and confidante who helps us to understand him better. Mainly for fans of heavy drama.


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