Review Date: February 16, 2006
Director: Bennett Miller
Writer: Dan Futterman
Producers: Caroline Baron, Michael Ohoven, William Vince
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman
Catherine Keener as Harper
Clifton Collins Jr. as Perry Smith
Famed writer Truman Capote, who penned “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” amongst other books, decides to head down to Kansas in order to write an article about the brutal murder of an average farm family of four. While down there, the killers are found and brought in for justice. At this point, Capote feels as though he can write an entire book on the subject (later to be titled “In Cold Blood”) and spends the rest of the film – and seemingly, his life – researching and interviewing the guys for his novel. Philip Seymour Hoffman ensues.
At the top of my mantle of most overrated “critic’s picks” of the year sat THE CONSTANT GARDENER and SYRIANA, waiting for a mate to join them. I didn’t think that another 2005 wonder would connect with them after all this time, but after having experienced CAPOTE for close to two hours, I can honestly say that this is yet another highly-touted film that I simply didn’t appreciate all that much (this thing is up for Best Picture of the year at the Oscars?). Even the across-the-board praise for Philip Seymour Hoffman is a little over the top, in my opinion, as he certainly does possess this guy’s look, voice and mannerisms, but as a character with emotional ups and downs, I didn’t see all that much variation in this guy from beginning to end. Basically, the guy’s a highly intelligent, manipulative, self-absorbed jerk, who uses these killers’ vulnerabilities against them, so that he could write the “greatest non-fiction novel” of all-time. So am I supposed to care about this guy? Oddly enough, the one actor in the film who did truly capture some humanity in his performance was Clifton Collins Jr. as Perry Smith, one of the “cold-blooded” murderers. Not unlike Sean Penn in the highly effective DEAD MAN WALKING, Collins portrayed real emotion in his guy, straining to come through to our side, but finding it difficult to fight against his lifetime of ugliness. Now why Catherine Keener is being mentioned for anything other than a passable portrayal of a woman who basically just stands around Capote the whole picture while not saying or doing much, is also beyond me! I thought she was terrible in THE 40-YEAR OLD VIRGIN as well, but that’s another story altogether.
The good points about the film? Well, its final 10-15 minutes certainly come through as the stagnancy of the film’s mid-section is finally budged with some actual intrigue, emotion and resolution. For the most part, the film moves at a pace slower than my urine whenever I’m standing between two other guys at the head, and features scene after scene of Capote speaking to either Perry Smith (or mind-fucking him, basically) or messing around with his friends and telling them how great he is, while drinking and smoking up a storm. Sure, Capote’s grandiose personality is fun to watch at times (if only because the guy’s a mess and doesn’t seem to know it), but after a while I really just got sick of the guy, for all his cold-heartedness and egotistical manner. When you add his lead performance to that of a woman standing around most of the time, and two hard-ass killers, who am I supposed to attach myself to as an audience member? Granted, the film looked great, its opening cinematography work in Kansas was splendid, Hoffman certainly acted like the real Truman Capote, Collins Jr. was memorable and the fact that all of the mindfucking ultimately affected Capote in a negative manner was a decent cherry, but the film itself was a little too long, moved a little too slow, and didn’t really pull me into the murderers’ backstory or Capote’s inner being. Check it out on video if interested in the topic, otherwise…don’t believe the hype and move on with your life.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian