A review of “Capote” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ****

Rating: R for violent images and strong language

Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

 

 

The Best Actor Oscar race promises to be smoking hot courtesy of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s delirious turn as the shrill and effeminate Truman Capote.

“Capote” focuses its lens on 1959, when media darling Capote happens upon a New York Times article about the brutal murders of the simple, upstanding Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas. This is just the opening Capote needs to prove his untested theory that in gifted hands non-fiction can be as scintillating as fiction.

With the support of “researcher and bodyguard” Harper Lee (the superb Catherine Keener as the To Kill a Mockingbird author) and the blessing of his editor Capote sets out for Kansas and an obsession that will ultimately consume his intricate life.

 Capote dives into his research with abandon, befriending accused killer Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) with whom he feels a curious bond. Perry is sensitive, moody, creative and altogether misunderstood, a fair assessment of Capote himself.

From the literary salons of New York to the plainspoken plains of rural Kansas Capote wheedles and whines and manipulates his way into hearts and homes to fuel both his masterpiece and his monumental ego, and to finally put to rest his classic novel In Cold Blood.

What to say about Hoffman? He channels Truman Capote with every fiber of his being; flawlessly capturing the essence of one of the literary world’s great love affairs; Capote in love with Capote. Sartorially splendid and brimming with attitude, the Southern-bred raconteur rubs many the wrong way but his genius is unparalleled.

Debut director (!) Bennett Miller crafts a marvelously rich and absorbing biopic of man and mystery and the subtle nuances that make twisted brilliance tick.