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Overall Rating
4.09

Awesome: 37.86%
Worth A Look41.75%
Average: 11.65%
Pretty Bad: 8.74%
Total Crap: 0%

12 reviews, 31 user ratings


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Capote
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by William Goss

"Murder, He Wrote"
5 stars

Unless you’ve been living in a small Kansas town your entire life, you’re probably well aware of the immense acclaim being lauded on Philip Seymour Hoffman for his work in the biopic 'Capote.' Just in case you needed another assurance of his worthiness, here it is: every award forecast, every glossy adjective, and every shred of praise…every word is true.

Hoffman stars as Truman Capote, a Manhattan socialite who, accompanied by his friend, Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), travels to Kansas to investigate the slaughtering of a farm family for a New Yorker article. Soon after arriving and speaking with the lead investigator (Chris Cooper), the two killers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) are captured, and the crime becomes the focus of Capote’s non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood.

As Capote, Hoffman doesn’t just deliver a fascinating impersonation; he embodies the fey demeanor and sharp wit, as well as the unquenchable penchant for the social spotlight. Yet, as the film progresses, he also reveals an increasing degree of manipulation in the name of progress. It gets so personal for Capote that he equates the oft-delayed execution of Smith and Hickock to torture, a frequent interruption in the completion of his masterpiece. After increasing visits, Capote devotes his interest to Smith alone, while igniting a latent connection between them. He feels immense sympathy for Smith, yet when his novel is coming to a close, he begins to take advantage of Smith in hopes of getting the conclusion to his novel that he very much desires.

At one point, Capote remarks how he felt that him and Smith grew up together, with Smith leaving through the back door while he left through the front. However overt Smith’s crimes were, Capote himself may be as cruel and malicious as the murderer he chronicles. With small actions, such as his refusal of revealing the title of his book or his presentation of a family photograph, his underlying motives become all too clear. As much as the murders may have been in cold blood, so were his intentions.

As Smith, Collins Jr. creates a sympathetic portrait of a killer who is resigned to his guilt, yet still aspires to redeem himself somehow, which is the very angle Capote promises him he’ll take in the book if he will just help Capote out with a juicy confession only he can provide. Keener turns in career-best work as Lee, a caring colleague whose success with To Kill A Mockingbird spoils the relationship between her and the increasingly scornful Capote. Early on, she helps establish Truman’s credibility with the wary Kansas community. However, as her novel garners acclaim and a Hollywood adaptation, his work sits in limbo as he awaits the death of its subjects, and they drift apart as a result. Cooper does a suitable job as the lead investigator. Thanks to his wife, he soon warms up to Capote’s charisma, though his highest priority lies with the criminals’ due punishment, not what bestseller it will produce. Bruce Greenwood makes the most of his brief appearances as Capote’s partner, who also begins to achieve literary success, while Bob Balaban emerges as his editor only to reiterate the importance of Capote’s novel.

Director Bennett Miller uses stark scenery and straight-forward editing to create a beautiful landscape on which the characters and their interactions unfold. However, the solid supporting players are all tied into Capote’s relentless magnetism, and Hoffman grounds the film in a way few other actors can achieve, with the showcase of a tormented soul whose success comes at too great a cost.

What ultimately elevates Hoffman’s portrayal – and the film itself – to such a remarkable level is its refusal to place its subject on a pedestal, instead offering a frank depiction of Capote in all his cold schemes and manipulative misery.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12886&reviewer=409
originally posted: 10/28/05 14:31:07
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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
5/28/10 PAUL SHORTT ENGROSSING, ABSORBING DRAMA WITH A BRILLIANT STAR PERFORMANCE 5 stars
3/15/10 Jeff Wilder The film id merely good but Hoffman 4 stars
2/11/10 Kenny the killings were in Kansas not Kentucky. fyi. 3 stars
4/14/09 Shaw C. PSH is a good actor but did not shine in this one. Award should go to Collins Jr 3 stars
3/31/09 Flounder A supremely introspective and probing character study the likes of which left me in awe 5 stars
11/22/08 Shaun Wallner Interesting Movie! 4 stars
12/11/07 R.W.Welch Not exactly gripping but Hoffman is dead on in title role. C+ 3 stars
10/25/07 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
9/13/06 Edward Connell Place yourself in Capote`s place and become fascinated and intrigued. 3 stars
9/12/06 Michael Coovert Never understood the hoopla; movie did not live up to the true story of Capote. 3 stars
8/17/06 Mary Beth flat, not engrossing 2 stars
7/18/06 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
6/03/06 Ken Kaplan Awesome is the word. One of the most incisive reviews I've seen. One of the best pictures v 5 stars
5/24/06 Indrid Cold Certainly well made, but far too dreary and languid to be enjoyable. 3 stars
5/19/06 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
4/09/06 Simon 'chilling' is the word I can't get out of my head. a prying, no-nonsensely done film. 5 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar I wouldn't let him marry my daughter. 4 stars
3/08/06 Piz Wow what a surprise. A great biopic worthy of best pic. 5 stars
3/07/06 Monday Morning Totally enlightening, revealing & surprising biopic, brilliantly done. 5 stars
3/04/06 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
11/09/05 Suzz exquisite acting; very, very fine film 5 stars
9/28/05 E. Northam Brilliant casting; superlative performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  30-Sep-2005 (R)
  DVD: 21-Mar-2006

UK
  24-Feb-2006 (15)

Australia
  23-Feb-2006




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