review for Capote on AllMovie

Capote (2005)
by Cammila Collar review

Capote is spellbinding and awe-striking, an almost perfect film. This accomplishment is even more remarkable when you take into account that this is director Bennett Miller's first feature, producer/writer Dan Futterman's first film, and that it's adapted from Gerald Clarke's first full-length biography. The craftsmanship apparent in Capote is clever and quick, creating scenes that are sometimes bizarre or funny, but never heavy-handed. Without plodding speeches or Oscar-bait tantrums, Capote weaves together a hauntingly realistic portrait of the charismatic and the grotesque. The movie isn't about the slaying of a family in Kansas, and it's not about Perry Smith, the convicted killer in the case -- whom Capote became so famously close to while writing his book. When it comes right down to it, Capote isn't even really about the writing of that book -- though the bizarre process of it is detailed almost completely. The story of the film is eerily captivating, but in the end, its narratives are just the pieces that eventually come together to form an almost impossibly intimate psychological portrait of Truman Capote the man. Capote sheds a gradually overwhelming light on its subject, revealing with a quiet intensity how a man of such superhuman charm and skill could in fact be so crippled by a near sociopathic narcissism. The minimal awareness portrayed in Capote's character make him all the more intriguing and compelling, even as his power over another man's life ripples distantly in his consciousness as little more than a component of his success as a writer. This heartbreakingly real performance is what makes the film such a masterpiece, and denotes perhaps the most breathtaking turn in the film -- Philip Seymour Hoffman's. While Hoffman is far from a new face and has enjoyed a highly respected career in a multitude of films, a role of this magnitude is a first for him; the kind it's instantly certain that he will be remembered for. As a profile of the character's inner life, the aforementioned production team behind Capote most certainly pursued the project with the knowledge that it would fail without such a perfect fit. As a result, even Hoffman's tremendous success can be seen as a component in the synergy that made this one of the best films in years.