, American writer Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) finds the idea for his next book when a newspaper reports the grizzly murders of an ordinary Kansas family. His investigations lead him to a close and destructive relationship with the killers and a terrible realization about himself. Is a literary masterpiece worth a couple of lives?
“Hoffman’s performance is astonishing” – The Observer
“One of the best films you’ll see this year” – Daily Mirror
Bennett Miller’s film, shot in muted 1950’s colours with still panoramic shots of a bleak Kansas landscape, is a gripping study of two charming but frightening psychopaths made all the more chilling by the confident understatement sustained throughout. The bizarre relationship between high camp writer Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the psychopathic murderer Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jnr.) unravels in a series of half articulated but emotionally compelling scenes where dialogue is reduced to a minimum. The men are mirror images of each other, both outcasts from American society in the 1950s, Truman an open homosexual and Perry from mixed race parents, both deeply sensitive and yet both highly manipulative with an unstoppable and frightening killer instinct. The literal murderer is only just more culpable than the writer who can stop at nothing, even at the expense of his own feelings, to create his masterpiece. Hoffman, in his Oscar-winning performance as the camp-voiced misfit in straight-as-a-dye Kansas, creates a character that is as emotionally involving as it is morally repugnant. His strangulated, high-pitched Alabama accent is wonderful at delivering Truman’s witty one-liners but it is also throttled into weirdly articulate grunts and whines as he struggles to express the full horror of what he is thinking. Clifton Collins Jnr. mirrors not only Capote’s character but Hoffman’s performance in its powerful understatement. The principals, often given remarkably few lines, are all forced to act with their facial muscles… the outstanding Catherine Keener, as Truman’s friend, the writer Nelle Harper Lee, could enact the entire English Dictionary with her eyebrows and the slightest movement of her lips and Chris Cooper as the police chief conveys the depth of his misery in a powerful scene where he silently carves Sunday lunch.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Clifton Collins Jnr.