Film review by: Witney Seibold



            Truman Capote’s book In Cold Blood was a hit when it was published in 1959, and is considered in some scholarly circles one of the most important books of the century. There have been two films based on it, the first of which is one of the best crime flicks there is. For anyone familiar with the book or the films, we know in explicit detail the lives and happening in the lives of Bill Hickock and Perry Smith, the Kansas murderers who seemed to have no reason for their slayings, and were brutally executed by the state. Readers of the book may also know that Capote himself became intensely involved in the case for years, helping the pair get extra council and appeals right up until the end. He had a special interest in Smith and tells much of his story.

            The new film Capote, a biopic of the writer’s life during these years of investigation, finally offers some insight into his state of mind and his motivations for keeping this case alive. Unfortunately, as there are no written or witness reports of Capote’s true intentions throughout all of the Blood debacle, the film is largely conjecture, and it feels like it. There’s a lot of Capote sitting around, brooding, being indecisive. He was an obvious egomaniac and a homosexual so raised are questions about his need for a juicier story (causing his to string things out), and his falling in love with Perry (causing all of those one-on-one talks). But, as Capote was petty, emotional, brilliant, and above all ineffable, so the film can’t really offer us anything solid. On its ground or offering us the “true” Caopte story, the film does not work as well as it would like.

            But the performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman in the role of Capote is something extraordinary. Capote was a mannered little queen with immaculate Brylcreemed hair, a cigarette, and a squeaky drawl that would grate on the nerves, were he not so fascinating a man. Hoffman captures all of these peculiarities and makes them real and believable. He is even able to make such usual “gay” devices as limp wrists and a lisp seem natural. It is only his second lead performance and is the performance of his career. Catherine Keener is also very good as Harper Lee.



            As while actor-cum-screenwriter Dan Futterman (from Judging Amy) and director Bennett Miller may not have been entirely successful, but the In Cold Blood story is still fascinating, and Hoffman is so stellar, that the film will certainly not disappoint everyone.

September 30th, Sony Pictures Classics

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 1:49 am  Leave a Comment  

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