Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Canada/USA, 2005. United Artists, Sony Pictures Classics, A-Line Pictures, Cooper’s Town Productions, Infinity Media, Eagle Vision. Screenplay by Dan Futterman, based on the book by Gerald Clarke. Cinematography by Adam Kimmel. Produced by Caroline Baron, Michael Ohoven, William Vince. Music by Mychael Danna. Production Design by Jess Gonchor. Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone. Film Editing by Christopher Tellefsen.
Amid the successes of his first novel Other Voices, Other Rooms and short stories (including Breakfast At Tiffany’s), Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) takes a strange turn in his career by insisting to his New Yorker editor (Bob Balaban) that he must cover the police investigation and subsequent trial of two men accused of murdering five members of a Kansas family. Taking his childhood friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) along as research assistant, herself on the eve of success with the publication of To Kill A Mockingbird looming, Capote travels to the Midwest and makes quite an impression on the locals, not to mention invoking the annoyance of the police chief (Chris Cooper) who does not desire any interference in his work. Eventually the accused murderers are caught, and upon meeting one of them (Clifton Collins Jr.), Capote feels a deep connection with him. He decides he will write a novel instead of a magazine article, and will tell the chilling story of the murders while also portraying killers Perry Smith (Collins) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) as human; as he tells Lee, he feels he and Smith are the same person who made different choices. Bennett Miller’s hard-edged direction and Hoffman’s no-nonsense performance, which brings to life Capote’s oddball personality with compelling precision (though, let’s face it, it’s also a typical trick-pony Oscar baiter) make for a satisfying experience, with Keener’s fantastic work marking her one of the cinema’s most impressive actresses. The superbly economical screenplay was written by actor Dan Futterman.
Academy Award: Best Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener); Best Director (Bennett Miller); Best Adapted Screenplay
Golden Globe Award: Best Actor-Drama (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Screen Actors Guild Award: Best Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Nominations: Outstanding Motion Picture Cast; Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener)
Toronto International Film Festival: 2005