Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2006. Warner Independent Pictures, Killer Films. Screenplay by Douglas McGrath, based on the book Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career by George Plimpton. Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. Produced by Jocelyn Hayes, Christine Vachon, Anne Walker-McBay. Music by Rachel Portman. Production Design by Judy Becker. Costume Design by Ruth Myers. Film Editing by Camilla Toniolo. Independent Spirit Awards 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Comparisons to Bennett Miller’s Capote, which was filmed at the same time and was released barely a year before this one, are inevitable and not likely to win audiences over here. Like its predecessor, it captures the time during which celebrated writer Truman Capote (Toby Jones) travels to Kansas to write an article about the grisly murder of a farming family and ends up writing one of the most successful American books of all time. This film, however, concerns itself much more with the relationship that develops between Capote and Perry Smith, one of the two men who committed the crime. While conducting his research, Capote finds himself irresistibly attracted to Smith (Daniel Craig), a deeply soulful man whose attempts to become an artist and find love have led him to commit a terrible deed, and leading Capote to feel a deep sympathy with him while trying not to ignore his deeds. Miller’s film did a much better job of not playing like a dramatic recreation, this one including annoying on-camera “interviews” with actors portraying friends of Capote’s. Jones is a much more believable physical recreation of the noted author, but the character isn’t as sympathetic and Jones is rather one-note in his portrayal: Capote tells King that he’s the only person who doesn’t make him feel the need to put on an act, but there’s nothing in his performance (or the script) to indicate so great a change. It would be a pretty average movie even without its big brother standing over its shoulder, but the competition definitely doesn’t help. The only really memorable aspect that could make it worth watching would be Craig’s fearless, compelling performance as the killer with the soul of a lover: his scenes are the only time you forget that you’ve seen it all before.