The vicissitudes of The Movie Gods have destined that writer-director Douglas McGrath’s ‘Infamous’ will go down in history as The Other Truman Capote Movie.

After all, Bennett Miller’s recent Capote biopic, which covers the same period in the literary gadfly’s life, won Phillip Seymour Hoffman the Best Actor Oscar. Here’s the thing, however: ‘Infamous’ is the better movie. And British actor Toby Jones, in his first major screen role, delivers a Truman every bit the equal of Hoffman’s remarkable turn. True, familiarity can breed contempt, but McGrath’s warmer take on the saga behind the creation of Capote’s masterpiece ‘In Cold Blood’ captures Truman’s preferred role as an adept observer of life, whether it be within New York literary circles (as personified here by the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Isabella Rossellini, Hope Davis, Gwyneth Paltrow and director-turned-actor Peter Bogdanovich) or during his investigations into a brutal series of murders in rural Kansas. Whereas Hoffman’s Capote dominated the screen, Toby Jones’ magnetic performance finds space to generously accommodate another pair of first-rate turns: Sandra Bullock, doing her best screen work to date as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee, and a magnetic Daniel Craig, effortlessly shedding his Bond image as conflicted killer Perry Smith. Indeed, the relationship between Capote and Smith forms the true crux of ‘Infamous’, which is essentially a twisted love story about two lost, predatory souls. Working from George Plimpton’s acclaimed Capote biography, McGrath (who co-wrote Woody Allen’s ‘Bullets Over Broadway’) has crafted a beautiful slice of smart, sharp Americana that deserves to be celebrated in its own right.—Derek O’Connor.

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