March 22, 2006
|GET BUZZFLASH ALERTS||REVIEW ARCHIVES|
In an Oscar Award winning performance, Philip Seymour Hoffman channels Truman Capote in a mesmerizing role that shuttles back and forth between the literary cocktail parties of Manhattan and the stern, bleak landscape of the Kansas prairie.
It's cinema at its most theatrical. This could have been a Broadway drama, except that the bleak, stark cinematography is astounding at how it evokes conservative, mid-century Kansas scenery and citizens.
It is an amazing feat of storytelling and acting that amidst the horrific murder of a family of four in a house set in a field of wheat, the film focuses on the relationship between Capote and one of the killers. It is haunting, fascinating and voyeuristic.
If Hoffman wasn't dead-on perfect as Capote, this film would have collapsed like a punctured souffle. But Hoffman is never off-pitch and never even makes a gesture that is out of character.
We could try to draw some lessons about America's penchant for inexplicable bursts of violence running up against its stern conservative rural rectitude. But this film is much too intimate a relationship story and an insight into a literary mind at work to go too far afield in our analysis.
Why is it a BuzzFlash premium if it is not overtly political?
Because of its sheer excellence -- and because it does reveal, as its story unfolds, much about America, although that is not its primary purpose.
This is a film about Truman Capote, an enigmatic member of America's "glitterati" pantheon (and one should remember that as a film it does take cinematic liberties with some of the facts.) It's about a young boy from Alabama who grows up to be the toast of the New Yorker magazine staple of writers and then pens a book, "In Cold Blood," that is a masterpiece.
Capote's researcher who assists him in gathering the facts for "In Cold Blood" is none other than Harper Lee, his childhood friend from Monroeville, Alabama, and author of "To Kill a Mockingbird."
This is a richly textured character study that deserves an attentive screening.
Capote thought of "In Cold Blood" as the first book to turn fact into a novel. The movie "Capote" is true to that literary objective.