starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins, Jr., Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban, Mark Pelegrino, Marshall Bell and Chris Cooper
screenplay by Don Futterman
directed by Bennett Miller
In 2006 Philip Seymour Hoffman won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Truman Capote, and rightly, I think. Based on the book by Gerald Clarke, Capote is about Truman Capote’s famous 1966 “non-fiction fiction” book In Cold Blood, about the gruesome November 1959 murder of the Clutter family of four in Kansas. In Cold Blood has already been made into a movie - in 1967, starring Robert Blake and Scott Wilson, written and directed by Richard Brooks. Black starred as the sensitive, articulate killer Perry Smith (played by Clifton Collins, Jr. in Capote). I read the book some time ago, but the unsettling horror of it has stayed with me ever since - the detached description of the evil that people are capable of. People are just people, carriers of tremendous good and tremendous evil.
In his four years of researching the book and spending many hours interviewing the convicted murderers Capote seems to have blurred the lines of his life, growing too close to Perry Smith. The film suggests that, plus Capote’s drinking contributed to the deterioration of his writing talent, and postscript notes tell us that he never again finished a book.
There are great performances here by other actors whose faces you will recognize even if you don’t know their names: Alvin Dewey as a crime investigator; and, Marhall Bell as the prison warden.
Although the real events in 1959 took place in rural Kansas, this movie was filmed in Manitoba,Canada. It reminds me of other great movies that are supposed to feature the American prairies, but which were in fact filmed in Canada: Dances With Wolves (1990, directed by and starring Kevin Costner), and Unforgiven (1992, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood) come first to mind. Maybe it is a statement about how much cheaper it is to make a movie in Canada than in America, or maybe it is a statement about how little open, undeveloped prairie land still remains in the United States that they have to go north to Canadato find it and film it.