Capote is currently being hailed as sporting an Oscar-worthy performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, the author of In Cold Blood, as well as Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The film focuses on Capote’s struggle to research and write In Cold Blood, the first “non-fiction novel”, which documents the killing of a family of four in a Kansas farm, by two men.
In doing his research for the novel, Capote manipulates and lies his way around almost everybody, all the while focusing on himself. He’s not a very likeable character for the most part, but Hoffman portrays him with a certain childlike innocence that makes you forgive him because he “probably just doesn’t know any better”.
There’s a fascinating part towards the last third of the film, where Capote is struggling with his book because the he has no ending – the criminals (who were on death row) were granted an appeal to the Supreme Court – and until their story ended, Truman wouldn’t have his ending. When their petition is denied by the Supreme Court, Truman’s reaction is elation – because he can finish his writing. It’s a bit off-putting to see someone relieved by something as trivial as that, but then, Capote only thinks of himself.
Hoffman’s performance is quite good – although I will admit to not knowing much about Capote himself to state whether it was authentic or not. However, based on what I’ve heard, he nailed it. And on-screen, I saw an actor take on a role and utterly transform himself without the use of any make-up or prosthetics. The movie has a bit of violence (there were four people murdered, after all), but beyond that, it’s a fascinating character study of a man who could be described as anything but ordinary.