Capote English Movie

Feature Film | 2005
Mar 3, 2006 By Subhash K. Jha

Not Philip Seymour Hoffman, who goes beyond performing brilliance to create the character of author Truman Capote...Not Bennet Miller who directs this fascinating and gripping tale of crime and conscience...The real star of Capote is the screenplay by Dan Futterman, which takes us into those roomy recesses in the human soul where the motion picture camera doesn't really have access.

How has Futterman managed to go into that forbidden area of starkness where we can actually see the characters' careening conscience as it is stressed by the pulls and pushes of moral issues?

The brilliantly crafted film is about the process of literary creation and creative cannibalisation whereby the writer uses the raw material of the human heart to further his own cause.

The interactive frisson between Capote (Hoffman) and one of the two slayers, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins), forms the backbone of the powerful drama. We never see the two of them in stylish silhouettes, always as headlong collaborators in the process of creating conscientiousness about the crime.

Capote goes beyond the immediacy of the crime. It looks with unflinching integrity and bridled sensitivity at the central relationship between the social outcast and the celebrity.

At the same time the film generates tremendous empathy for all the other characters such as Capote's colleague Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) who stands witness to Capote's descent into absolute self-interest as the subject of his book prepares to be executed.

The sheer audacity of the subject matter, combined with restraint and rhythm make you want to give this miniature gem a standing ovation.

Seldom has a crime story gone so deep into the heart and conscience of the perpetrator and those who stand mutely out of self-interest watching a society punish criminals without knowing why he became one in the first place.

The film leaves us with a lingering feeling of nostalgia and regret. Did Perry really need to turn murderer? Having done so, the narrative doesn't create an atmosphere of sympathy for the condemned. Instead we see moral equations shifting gracefully throughout the narrative whereby the moral issue moves back and forth between the writer and the criminal.

Capote leaves you with a gripping story whose finale crushes cynicism and gives rise to a sense of immense gratitude for the gift of such delicately drawn cinema of moral ambiguity.

Hoffman brings the true-life author to life with all his bravado and blemishes. None of us has met Truman Capote. But after watching him in Capote, we certainly wonder how the mind of a literary genius works.

Subhash K. Jha