By Celeste Meiffren
Photo Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
Philip Seymour Hoffman gives an Oscar-worthy performance in 'Capote,' a film about the influential writer Truman Capote. Some people in the film industry spell Oscar 'B-I-O-P-I-C.'
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 10, 2005
Philip Seymour Hoffman has played garnish characters for most of his career. From his portrayal of Lester Bangs in "Almost Famous" and Dean Trumbell in "Punch-Drunk Love" to Scotty in "Boogie Nights," Hoffman has given unforgettable performances. But no performance to date can even compare to the performance he gives as the title character in his new film, "Capote."
Truman Capote, a celebrity-status author who was at his prime in the '50s and '60s, wrote only a handful of books, including "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "In Cold Blood." The film, directed by unknown director Bennett Miller, shows Capote's process for writing his novel "In Cold Blood," which is a nonfiction novel about the brutal murder of a family in small-town Kansas.
The film follows both the murders and Capote's writing of the novel. As Capote uncovers what exactly happened, the audience too sees it for the first time. If Capote knows it, the audience knows it. This allows the audience to get inside the mind of the writer and understand how he interprets the events and transfers them onto the page.
In order to create a more compelling novel, Capote not only interviews people in the town, but he befriends the two men on trial for the murder. He becomes close friends with one of them, Perry (played by Clifton Collins Jr.), because they had similar childhoods wrought with abandonment and pain.
8 out of 10
Sony Pictures Classics
Capote describes his relationship with Perry: "It's as though we were brought up in the same house, and he went out the back door, and I went out the front." The cultivation of this relationship is the most compelling in the film because we see Capote struggle to be friends with a person that he is exploiting for his own gain.
The crux of the film is Capote's inner struggle with knowing how he wants the book to end but not being able to control it. The slow peeling away of the events of the murder and the story as a whole is masterful.
Hoffman gives a truly startling performance as Truman Capote. There have been whispers of an Oscar nomination, but not only does this performance deserve a nomination; it deserves a win.
The only thing working against Hoffman is that not many people today really know all that much about Truman Capote. But this could work in his favor as well, because he can become the character without succumbing to a mere impersonation.
The cinematography, editing and directing are meager at best, but the story and the performance carry the film so well that the technicality of the film takes a backseat in importance.
Overall, "Capote" is an amazing film. It sustains the memory of the murders, the murderers and one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. But more than that, it shows us how important literature and writers can be.