I did not know that Philip Seymour Hoffman had won any awards for his role in Capote until my wife showed me the DVD box at the video store, reminding me that we had both said that we wanted to see it, after seeing the preview once before. From what I recall from the notes on the box, he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. Hoffman’s performance in this movie definitely did not disappoint, as so often these “Award Winner”s do to me. I was impressed also with the actors who played Nel Harper Lee, Alvin the Sherriff, Perry, Dick, and many of the other characters who supported the story.
The movie was rather “dark and artsy” as TajLV commented, but I don’t think that a light and documentary-like theme to the movie would have been appropriate at all. The “film noir” aspect to many of the jailhouse, interview, and bed scenes (scenes of Capote, in midst of deep depression, not salubrious and carnal sex scenes), with the juxtaposition of the “ha ha! Listen to me!” Hollywood-like world of famous, celebrity writers was very effective.
Why do I say effective? The effect, for me, was to show how Capote’s internal descent into the creation of In Cold Blood, a novel which has been sitting amongst the other books on my bedroom floor, unread, for years. It could be called ironic that the writer’s surging and legendary ascent in the industry and culture of America was accompanied by the writer’s deep, dark, and very real descent into alcoholism and depression.
The notes before the final credits rolled provided information about this descent. Apparently, Capote became one of the most famous writers in American history, as a result of In Cold Blood, and he never finished another novel after it was published. Also, he died in 1984, of complications due to alcoholism.
There are many questions that I think the movie, Capote raised. For one, did Perry really carry out those murders, as his story was depicted in the movie – as if he were a practiced, professional killer who snapped – or did he tell Capote what the writer wanted to hear, so that this book would become what it was destined to become? Two, did Capote play the role of a friend in order to get the story, or while getting the story did Capote’s feelings for Perry grow into a set of affectionate and loving feelings for the condemned man? Three, why is it that I did not know that Harper Lee, who wrote one of my most favorite stories of all time, To Kill A Mockingbird, was a friend and writer’s research assistant to Truman Capote during the time that she was trying to get her novel finished?
Overall, I’d say this is a good Hollywood-icized version of the story of Truman Capote’s experiences in researching material for one of the most famous novels in American literature (which I plan to read someday :D). If you are a murder trial movie fan, then I think that you might appreciate the way that the 1950s justice system was portrayed in this movie, as well as the relationship between law enforcement and a famous, big-city writer.