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Awesome: 37.86%
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12 reviews, 31 user ratings

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by Chris Wilson

"An obvious choice for fans of Capote and true crime."
4 stars

Capote, a new biopic about Truman Capote, is a complex film about a complex and contradictory man in literary history. Many people will find Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote to be completely convincing. I found it to be distracting – though to be fair, I probably would have found the real life Capote’s flamboyance distracting. But not so distracting that I couldn’t appreciate the interesting story underneath.

The film concentrates on the approximately six years Capote spent researching the Kentucky murder of a family of four that would become his book, In Cold Blood. While a significant amount of time is spent on Capote’s relationship with convicted murderer Perry Smith, this doesn’t become the entire focus of the film. The heart of the movie is Capote’s obsession with getting the entire story, while not shying away from his uncanny ability to manipulate sources. The complicated (and often contradictory) ways this is shown in Hoffman’s Capote is nothing short of fascinating.

While Capote is the center of attention (by his own nature), secondary characters are given plenty of room to move. Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.), Local sheriff Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) and author Harper Lee (a very natural Katherine Keener), Capote’s ‘BFF’ according to a scholarly friend of mine, all are able to give us well rounded characters.

Sounds good so far, right? Except I have a problem with biopics. They attempt to tell a real person’s story but try to fit it inside the mold of a Hollywood formula. In doing this, details are changed for dramatic reasons and the audience is normally forced to take what they’re told at face value. Most distracting to me is the fact that a famous actor always plays the title role. With nearly every film about a real public figure, praise is heaped on this actor who truly inhabits the role. But every time all I can see is a caricature of a person.

Capote plays into these shortcomings, but less so than most films of the genre. Because the story concentrates less on Capote’s personal life and more on his professional (though still oddly personal) attempt to tell the complete story of a harrowing murder, it doesn’t feel as ‘same old’ as it might have. I have yet to find serious factual errors, though I’m sure there have been changes made for the purpose of dramatics. And while I still saw a caricature, it was a much more convincing one than usual. I’m sure this is mostly due to the fact that I’ve only heard the real life Capote’s voice on one or two occasions. He is not nearly as recognizable a figure today as Muhammad Ali or Ray Charles.

Those of you out there who are Truman Capote devotees or diehard fans of true crime stories will find plenty to love in Capote. However, if you’re like me and have some reservations with seeing famous stories told by Hollywood, you might want to sit this one out. Like its famous subject, the film’s genre definitely has a handle on manipulation.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12886&reviewer=400
originally posted: 10/15/05 19:29:13
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good film imho 4 stars
10/28/13 ClemenceDane I remember Capote, too, from television appearances & PSH didn't capture him at ALL! 2 stars
9/13/12 Alex Good review man 4 stars
3/14/10 Jeff Wilder The film id merely good but Hoffman 4 stars
2/10/10 Kenny the killings were in Kansas not Kentucky. fyi. 3 stars
4/13/09 Shaw C. PSH is a good actor but did not shine in this one. Award should go to Collins Jr 3 stars
3/30/09 Flounder A supremely introspective and probing character study the likes of which left me in awe 5 stars
11/21/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
12/10/07 R.W.Welch Not exactly gripping but Hoffman is dead on in title role. C+ 3 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann Emotionally blunted,boring.If you enjoy watching linoleum slowly curl,you'll like this. 2 stars
10/06/06 MP Bartley Austere character study. Brilliant performances across the board. 4 stars
9/12/06 Edward Connell Place yourself in Capote`s place and become fascinated and intrigued. 3 stars
9/11/06 Michael Coovert Never understood the hoopla; movie did not live up to the true story of Capote. 3 stars
8/16/06 Mary Beth flat, not engrossing 2 stars
7/17/06 CTT Mesmerizing and harrowing 5 stars
6/18/06 millersxing A chilling drama. It requires intense effort and energy to watch in one sitting. 4 stars
6/02/06 Ken Kaplan Awesome is the word. One of the most incisive reviews I've seen. One of the best pictures v 5 stars
5/23/06 Indrid Cold Certainly well made, but far too dreary and languid to be enjoyable. 3 stars
5/18/06 Annie G Gripping story, incredible acting, overall a fabulous movie. 5 stars
4/10/06 Phil M. Aficionado Brilliant in all respects:Concept, casting/acting,script, mood, pace, cinematograpy, focus. 5 stars
4/08/06 Simon 'chilling' is the word I can't get out of my head. a prying, no-nonsensely done film. 5 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar I wouldn't let him marry my daughter. 4 stars
3/07/06 Piz Wow what a surprise. A great biopic worthy of best pic. 5 stars
3/06/06 Monday Morning Totally enlightening, revealing & surprising biopic, brilliantly done. 5 stars
3/03/06 Green Gremlin The best biopic in years. Philip Seymour Hoffman desrves the Oscar !!! 5 stars
2/18/06 john bale Hoffman IS Capote in this powerful film and memorable performance. 5 stars
11/29/05 jcjs awesome, Phillip S. Hoffman, wow..a delight to watch acting and story supreme 5 stars
11/24/05 Desperado If PSH does not get an Oscar, somethings wrong terrific yet chilling movie, Incredible 5 stars
11/08/05 Suzz exquisite acting; very, very fine film 5 stars
9/28/05 E. Northam Brilliant casting; superlative performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman 5 stars
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  30-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

  24-Feb-2006 (15)


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