Movie review: Go see Capote
I’m old enough to remember the grown-ups talking about both the book and the movie when In Cold Blood first came out. Myrna Blyth, however, is old enough to have known Truman Capote, and her review of the film Capote explains how accurate the film is,
The movie Capote focuses only on the four years when he was writing In Cold Blood, his “non-fiction novel” about the murder of a Kansas farm family, the Clutters. Philip Seymour Hoffman is terrific in the leading role, managing to look and sound like Capote but doing far more than a classy imitation in a subtle, clever, obviously Oscar-attracting performance.
And the script is strong, too, revealing Capote by turns as brilliant and manipulative, relentlessly ambitious, and exhaustingly narcissistic. The movie focuses on Capote’s relationship with the strange, intelligent Perry Smith, one of the killers. But it also provides a revealing close-up of his relationship with Harper Lee, his childhood friend, who helps him in the early stages of his Kansas research.
The movie captures exactly the early 1960s in tone and detail, and is filmed in color, a good decision, since In Cold Blood was filmed in black and white — this is not In Cold Blood.
It is a portrait of Truman Capote, and how he achieved a great literary landmark while descending into alcoholism. His ambition led him down that path. The film is powerful, sparse, and chilling. Director Bennet Miller and scriptwriter Dan Futterman did an excellent job in using silence, instead of relying on extensive voice-overs or gabby dialogue. The soundtrack keeps music to a minimum, and the lighting and photography appropriately depictict a dark night of the soul. The result is an excellent film of great impact, which leaves the viewer pondering the societal implications of crime, the death penalty, the cult of celebrity, and a writer’s ambition.
Exactly forty-six years ago tonight the two murderers killed the Clutter family in Kansas. May the Lord have mercy on all their souls.