Capote (2005)

US, Canada / 114 minutes / color / Sony Pictures Classics, UA, Columbia Dir: Bennett Miller Pr: Caroline Baron, William Vince, Michael Ohoven Scr: Dan Futterman Story: Capote: A Biography (1988 nonfiction) by Gerald Clarke Cine: Adam Kimmel Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr., Chris Cooper, Bob Balaban, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, Mark Pellegrino, Allie Mickelson, Marshall Bell, Araby Lockhart, R.D. Reid, Rob McLaughlin, Harry Nelken, Bess Meyer.

Although this is one of those movies so full of good things that it’s hard to know where to start the list, its relation to noir is, as it were, doubly tangential: it depicts the background to Truman Capote’s “nonfiction novel” In Cold Blood (1966), the first screen adaptation of which, In Cold Blood (1967), has claims to membership of the film noir canon. (Capote has a few visual quotes from that movie, as when the murderer Andy is led to the prison annex for execution.) Its backdrop is a crime and its punishment, but really its concern is the relationship between the fanfared author and one of the killers, and the way that this relationship as much as the original, abhorrent crime sparked Capote’s creativity.

Capote - 2 Hoffman as Capote

Philip Seymour Hoffman captures the essence of Truman Capote.

Looking around after the wild success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958) for a new project, writer and New Yorker columnist Truman Capote (Hoffman) finds his attention caught by a New York Times account of the murder of an entire Kansas family. With the connivance of his agent William Shawn (Balaban), he travels to Kansas with his best friend since childhood, Nelle Harper Lee (Keener)—this was after the latter had written To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), in which the character Dill was based on Capote, but before that novel had been published. The locals are shy of the camp, affected Capote, so Nelle does much of the interviewing of those involved. The pair ingratiate themselves with Alvin Dewey (Cooper), the KBI agent in charge of the case, and Dewey’s wife Marie (Ryan).

After Perry Smith (Collins) and Dick Hickock (Pellegrino) have been Continue reading