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Capote

Director: Bennet Miller

U.S.A • 2005 • COLOUR • ANAMORPHIC • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 114 MIN


PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN’S PHYSICAL RESEMBLANCE TO WRITER TRUMAN CAPOTE IS MERELY THE STARTING POINT FOR A MARVELLOUS PERFORMANCE, SINCE HIS UNCANNY ABILITY TO SUMMON UP THE PANOPLY OF CONFLICTS RAGING INSIDE THIS BRILLIANT, TROUBLED MAN PROVES THE REAL MARK OF HIS ACHIEVEMENT.
Based on the biography by Gerald Clarke, the film traces how the successful author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, every bit the gay New York socialite, became the unlikely confidant of convicted murderer Perry Smith (an excellent Clifton Collins Jnr), whose November 1959 slaughter of a Kansas family in their remote farmhouse had shocked America. Capote believed that the complex backstory to this apparently motiveless crime offered him the great modern subject, requiring a whole new form of writing (the ‘non-fiction novel’) which was to become his 1966 masterpiece In Cold Blood. To get the whole story however, he needed to hear it from Smith’s own lips, which entailed getting to know the volatile killer whose troubled upbringing echoed Capote’s own painful childhood. But where did compassion for this damaged individual end and exploitation of his testimony begin?
In this stately, auspicious first fiction feature, director Bennett Miller respects the audience’s intelligence enough to resist telling us exactly what to think. Splendid supporting work from Chris Cooper’s thoughtful detective and Catherine Keener as Capote’s unsparing best friend Harper Lee make their mark, but Hoffman is truly remarkable, unravelling before our eyes as the literary icon whose greatest artistry comes at the cost of his humanity. And he knows it. —Trevor Johnston.

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