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Biopic portrays high-society fallout

Leigh Cooney | Interrobang | Lifestyles | January 16th, 2006



Truman Capote's In Cold Blood is an account of the brutal slaying of an entire family in small town Kansas and was one of the first contributions to true crime genre. But in the film Capote, which chronicles the research of this book, it is the author's cold-hearted, manipulative, self-absorbed nature that is revealed.

In 1959, Truman Capote traveled to Kansas to investigate the crime that left a family of four dead. After deciding that the event would make an excellent book, Capote developed a relationship with the two drifters who were convicted of committing this terrible act. Truman becomes fascinated with both of the convicts, but especially Perry Smith. Unfortunately, Smith is convinced that Capote will do anything to help them get out of jail while Capote is only interested in him so he can use his story as material for his book.

Capote was famous mostly for his articles in The New Yorker and his delightfully romantic novel, Breakfast at Tiffany's. He was also known for mingling with glamorous people and had to have the best of what the world could offer him, which explains his spoiled, self-absorbed nature. But for Capote, the party didn't last. When the first chapters of his work in progress, Answered Prayers, were published, Capote's friends were scandalized by what he exposed of them and severed his connection to the high-class world. Capote's world then fell apart and he eventually died from alcoholism at the age of 59.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman gives one of the most mesmerizing performances of his under-rated career as the slightly effeminate and openly gay Truman Capote. He can go from a seemingly compassionate, kind, Southern gentleman to a ruthless, cold-hearted bastard in the blink of an eye.

The supporting actors are incredible as well. Catherine Keener, as Harper Lee, is a powerful, lone woman in a world full of male writers, who gains far more success than her contemporaries. Bob Balaban, who is famous for his roles in such comedic films as A Mighty Wind and Waiting for Guffman, takes a far more serious turn as Capote's editor. Clifton Collins, Jr., in his role as the convict Perry Smith, is wonderful as a helpless man looking for kindness from Capote. Chris Cooper does a superb job as an ordinary sheriff who is deeply changed by the terrible murder committed in his small town.

The settings and costume designs are striking and fascinating to look at but everything about Capote is brilliant.

Overall, Capote shows one man's downfall from a talented writer to a depressed alcoholic and also teaches an important lesson about what happens when a person depends too much upon their notoriety in the world of the rich and famous.
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