I was tempted to call this a “classic” movie review but couldn’t decide. Maybe it isn’t yet, but it probably will be in the not-too-distant future. This movie about the fame of Truman Capote that came out the publication of his book, In Cold Blood (about the mass murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas), premiered in 2005, just months before the movie Infamous (2006). While they cover much of the same material, this film won Oscars for Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Actor), Catherine Keener (Best Supporting Actress as Harper Lee), Bennett Miller (Best Director), and Dan Futterman (Best Screenplay).
While there were some differences between the movies (either omitted or included), the thing that stood out for me was Capote’s duplicity in dealing with the criminals by misrepresenting his position as to his being a “friend”, and as to the view of them his book would take. He put himself in the precarious mental position of keeping them alive (he provided a lawyer to engineer appeals up to the Supreme Court) until he had all the information he needed to complete his book, and not being able to publish it until the event itself was completed by their executions. Likely, the truth of how he was affected by this will never by known and each of these two movies offers a different perspective. But perhaps it is telling that he never completed another book after In Cold Blood. He was extremely disappointed that the book didn’t win the Pulitzer, and the fact that his friend, Harper Lee, won one for her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, strained their relationship beyond repair.
After watching some YouTube interviews with Truman online, it is clear that Hoffman had the mannerisms and the speech down pat, and is able to convey a lot of Capote’s character and lifestyle. In Infamous, I found that a lot of people involved in Capote’s party life weren’t introduced and I felt like I was just supposed to know who they were, whereas in this movie there were some extras (hangers-on, if you will) but it there was no feeling of expectation that the viewer should know them. The climax of the movies were similar, and each plausible, but while I liked the Infamous ending better, I expect as I learn more about the life of Truman Capote that the ending to Capote is more realistic. You’ll have to judge for yourself. Well worth watching, if only for Hoffman’s incredible performance. * * * * *