Sunday, October 17, 2010
The movie Capote only takes us through about five years of the famed writer's life, but that's all we really need to understand this man's convoluted personality. It's a film that doesn't focus as much on Capote's (played perfectly by Philip Seymour Hoffman) personal life as it does the long process in which he created In Cold Blood. Labeled a non-fiction novel, Capote began the story as a piece for the New Yorker after he became fascinated by the brutal murder of a family on their farm in Kansas. The story intrigues Capote because it shows, as he tells us, the two different sides of the human nature, the traditional conservative man, and the violent loose cannon, and forces them together. How did this happen, and why? He wonders. Capote constantly questions the two men guilty of the crime, desperate for answers so he can complete the account of this terrifying, sad event. Capote also spends a great deal of time with his friend from childhood, Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), who wrote the famed To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee and Capote were the closest of friends, and after seeing the extent of their relationship in this movie, I can suddenly fathom the theory that Capote at least sharpened her award-winning novel. But that's for another story. The focus here is on Capote and his obsession with the Clutter family killings. Besides the great acting and the compelling story, Capote is also splendidly well-made. Directed with great proficiency by rookie Bennett Miller, the film has an archaic beauty that actually reminded me of the style of the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. It's beautifully shot with a sense of forlorn dread by Adam Kimmel, and composed to fit the mood by Mychael Danna. This is one of the best biographical pictures in the last ten years and really makes those who haven't read In Cold Blood want to take it off the shelf and give it a read.