True to Tru–Outstanding Acting
There are few words that can fully describe Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in “Capote”. He had the man down pat; from the walk, the talk, the look and within this he gave the performance of a lifetime. He is the bon vivant who is indulged by friends and lovers; he was connected to the rich and the famous. Suddenly he becomes penetrating as he probes the human condition. He the uses his cynicism to get what he wants and exhibits sincere emotion which he used for his purposes. He is cruel when he feels indignation for the sociopath that murdered the Clutter family and then became his muse. He is ambitious with the goal to do something great and the cost is high. With that, he is still a sympathetic character.
Capote, himself, was a character, and Hoffman develops that for us to see. Opposite Hoffman is Catherine Keener as Nelle (Harper Lee) and she is also perfect. She is warm and caring, perceptive and honest.
Together they are the ideal team. With acting like this, the plot almost seems unnecessary but it too is almost flawless. The cinematography evokes the past in its measured beauty and consistent, confident editing.
Watching “Capote” you are sure that you are watching a precious moment of film history. It is a movie that keeps getting better and better with subsequent viewings.
Those of us that were fortunate to have met Capote sat in awe of Hoffman’s performance—it was as if Tru never died. But the movie contains a great deal of truth as it shows the tragedy of a man who discarded his own decency in order to write one of the great American works of literature. As he achieves greatness, he is also damned. Capote’ contempt for the death penalty for a man who was abominable stabs at us and shows us that inhumanity is not always physically violent.
“Capote” has great assets—the best performance by an American actor in a very long time and some of the most intelligent dialog in recent years. However the movie is misleading. You would think by the title that it is about the life of the author. It is, rather, about the great novel that he wrote and his transformation from wunderkind and jet-setter to a trend-setting talented writer.
The film itself contains no excitement and the courtroom scenes tend to be quite boring but it does show great thought and intelligence with acting superiority.
The movie opens with a ghastly recreation of the crime that caused Capote to write “In Cold Blood”. When the scene shifts to New York City and we see Hoffman for the first time as Capote we feel like we are seeing a ghost. As we watch Hoffman, Capote becomes larger than life. In his flamboyance, he is amazing but as he transitions into an investigative author and we go with him, it is if we are now part of each other.
The Clutter murders were and still are extremely unsettling as is the movie. Hoffman has something of which to be very proud and we have a great American movie.