Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Capote (2005)

The key to this film is that we aren't supposed to sympathize with Truman Capote. Most of these modern-day portrait-of-a-bastard biopics (i.e. Ray, Walk the Line) want us to feel pity for their spiraling protagonists; Capote demands no such dissonant response. Capote's a rotter, and the film knows it. He's also a fine writer, at least until the shreds of his conscience start to catch up with him. Thus, we get a film about the struggle between what's socially right and what's personally beneficial, with director Bennett Miller and writer Dan Futterman capturing the exact moment when an artistic soul becomes irreversibly corrupted. Philip Seymour Hoffman is impressive in the title role, but I'm shocked that nobody's talking about Clifton Collins Jr., who plays Perry Smith. His grounded, low-key performance as an awestruck inmate balances Hoffman's extravagance beautifully, and it's a shame he's not getting the raves his more-famous costars are getting. Too, the specificity of the time frame avoids the then-this-happened antiflow of most biopics, which is a pet peeve of mine. A surprisingly strong biopic, if a bit obvious in its spelling out of its themes; also, Theo has the right attitude re: Catherine Keener.

Grade: B


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