Philip Seymour Hoffman
Directed by Dean Parisot
The story of how the late Truman Capote came to research and write his novel, “In Cold Blood,” is psychologically provocative and disturbing.
Bennet Miller’s new feature film, called simply “Capote,” recounts the five or so years that Capote spent working on the novel and gives moviegoers not only a look back at the murders that inspired the novel, but also an insider’s perspective on how an author of Capote’s caliber might go about finding material for and composing such a fact-based work.
Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote in what critics have lauded as his finest performance, the movie brings up very personal questions about desperation and trust and just how manipulative one can be when driven towards an end.
While researching his novel, Capote traveled to Holcomb, Kan., where the slaying of four innocent people had left an otherwise quaint farming community scared to go to sleep at night. This hands-on approach to his research takes Hoffman’s Capote out of his socialite Brooklyn atmosphere and into a place where he is unwanted and misunderstood.
After interviewing a handful of townspeople, Capote meets and befriends Perry Smith and Richard Hickock, the incarcerated suspects of the crime. Here, Capote’s research takes a dramatic turn as he decides to visit Smith outside his cell on death row on almost a daily basis.
The great amount of information that Capote was able to ascertain from Smith during these visits is astounding, not to mention the fact that he was provided with a perfected psychological profile of the killers with which to use in his book. In the movie, tension arises when Capote begins to manipulate Smith for his own ends. When prodded by Smith about the title of his novel, or how near he is to completion, Capote lies to Smith telling him that he hasn’t yet started, or that he hasn’t decided on a title, when actually the novel is almost completed and the title decided upon. The way in which the convicts are manipulated by the author leaves the audience to wonder if Capote isn’t somewhat of a criminal himself.
In a Hollywood Movies interview, Hoffman said he doesn’t think Capote ultimately used the convicts in a malevolent way, but rather that he drew them in anonymous light.
Hoffman’s performance in the film, which has already earned him the Golden Globe for best dramatic actor, may eventually win him enough praise from the academy to earn an Oscar.