So this is part of what I meant the other day in my Potpourri: 6 degrees of separation. I went from wanting to read Go Set a Watchman, to needing to read To Kill a Mockingbird first, that led me to The Mockingbird Next Door, then to Infamous (2006), the movie about Truman Capote where Sandra Bullock plays Nelle Harper Lee (NHL). (Next will be In Cold Blood but after I finish Go Set a Watchman.)
In The Mockingbird Next Door, author/journalist Marja Mills talks about NHL being a bit uneasy and quite curious about the 2 movies that came out in late 2005, 2006. Apparently, according to Mills, when NHL watched the movie, she was appalled that Sandra Bullock was wearing white socks with black pumps. Other than that, she reportedly liked the way she was depicted in the movie.
I did, too. I thought NHL was portrayed in the way, from everything I’ve read and seen, she pretty much was. Of course, that’s just a supposition, but perhaps a reasonable one. (There’s an article about how Sandra Bullock researched NHL for the part here.) I found a lot of the New York City characters a bit confusing; most of them, I had no idea who they were except for Bennett Cerf, and Gore Vidal. I think most of the women there were just window dressing to show off Capote’s flamboyant and gossipy character. It worked well.
It was very easy to get caught up in the plot of how Truman (played by Toby Jones) created his masterpiece, In Cold Blood, and how NHL was a friend and helped him with his research. The expert way in which he manipulated people was rather like a snake charmer — spell-binding and repellant at the same time. I thought a lot of what we are shown of Capote’s character, wit, and life-style was compelling as well.
The story of the murder of the Clutters of Holcomb, Kansas was both gruesome and sensational but is treated here in a sensitive way. Truman’s approach to the story was unusual for the time and began a new wave of journalism: the non-fiction novel. It was the pinnacle of his career and he never wrote anything afterwards that came close to it, as either literature or profit. The movie, in my mind, presents a rather balanced portrayal of the events, Capote and Lee’s involvement and relationship, and their times. I would like to see the other movie that came out around the same time, titled simply Capote (2005) and for which Phillip Seymour Hoffman won an Oscar. I very much enjoyed Ms. Bullock’s interpretation of Nelle Harper Lee.
Infamous — * * * * *