So the third Watchlist film that I’ve decided to review is Capote, a film about famous author Truman Capote. And wow. If I don’t review for a while, it’s because I’ve been too busy reading his book In Cold Blood. Here’s my review:
The 2005 film Capote follows author Truman Capote (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) as he writes one of his most famous novels. Based heavily on a true story, the film shows Capote as he chronicles the murder of a Kansas family and its aftermath, whilst alienating his friends, creating a deep bond with one of the murderers, and eventually writing his novel In Cold Blood.
The most striking thing about this movie is Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman – he’s captivating, both affable and cruel, and very camp. Hoffman so accurately captures the spirit of a man who was willing to do anything for his books, and whom you are never sure whether you like him or hate him. He feels so very real, and human, that it is no wonder Hoffman won an Oscar for this role.
Capote’s relationship with one of the murderers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) is also very well written; it’s undefined nature adds much to both characters, and you never quite know whether to fear Perry or feel sorry for him. The ambiguity of their relationship, rather than making it feel underdeveloped, makes their bond seem more real, and unlikely, like it was in real life. Truman’s friendship with To Kill A Mockingbird author Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) is also nicely explored, and his alienation of her in favour of his story is heartbreaking to watch.
Bennett Miller’s direction adds yet another element of reality to the film and its characters. It’s not grand, just understated and personal, giving us an up-close look on the authors life very effectively.
This film has become one of my favourite films based on a true story; I know I keep using the word real, but Miller and Hoffman have taken a rather dramatic yet true plot and made it feel very realistic, and like the true story it is. They have captured the essence of a larger than life man, who wrote a larger than life novel, and I have never read In Cold Blood, but I will be buying it later this week. Because, as William Shawn said in the film, “this book will change how people write”.
Here is a list of five of my favourite films based on true stories:
- Good Morning Vietnam
- The Sound of Music
- The Intouchables
- Mississippi Burning