• James Rutherford

'Capote': An Indelible Depiction of Truman Capote and His Fervent Efforts to Compose 'In Cold Blood'


Movie poster for the film Capote starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

Capote (2005) is an exquisite depiction of American writer Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman), focusing on his efforts to craft his famous nonfiction novel In Cold Blood. Set between 1959 and 1965, the storyline follows Capote's journalistic coverage of the infamous Clutter Family Murders—a bold undertaking that would result in the publication of his pioneering work of true crime.


First learning of the gruesome murders from his home in New York City, Capote is captivated by the horror of the family's demise and informs his editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) that he intends to document the case first-hand. Traveling to Holcomb, Kansas alongside close confidante Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), Capote insinuates himself into the investigation after charming lead detective Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) and his wife Marie (Amy Ryan). Manipulating prison personnel and gaining access to accused murderers Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), Capote soon develops a dangerous attachment to Smith, the remorseful killer who ultimately supplies the candid details that help to make "In Cold Blood" a celebrated masterpiece.


Based on Gerald Clarke's 1988 biography Capote and directed by Bennett Miller (Moneyball, Foxcatcher), it's an absorbing and often disquieting depiction of the trailblazing author's struggle to develop his most famous work. In his Oscar-winning performance, Hoffman is absolutely extraordinary in his finely nuanced portrayal of the flamboyant and colorful scribe. With rich and somber cinematography courtesy of Adam Kimmel, it's a pensive and indelible recreation of historic convergence—and the precarious development of a literary work commonly considered one of the finest of the 20th Century.

 

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