"Fascinating" is an adjective that has been abused so much that it's become almost useless. But how else to describe an absorbing movie about a captivating real-life character and his enthrallment with a crime, portrayed by an intriguing actor whose performance is never less than mesmerizing? Eventually, you run out of synonyms.
Well, then: Bennett Miller's fascinating biopic recounts how Truman Capote, already famous for "Breakfast at Tiffany's," spent four years to research and write "In Cold Blood," his "non-fiction novel" about the heinous murders of an entire family in a backwater Kansas town.
Capote and Harper Lee, his friend and future hit author (Catherine Keener), travel to Kansas to write a piece for The New Yorker about the crime. While Capote lets his freak flag fly (in the form of a fabulous scarf from Bergdorf Goodman), the more presentable Lee asks questions around town, getting close to the local citizens and the town police chief (Chris Cooper) who leads the investigation. When the two murderers are caught, Capote discovers he has the makings of a book--an important book.
A complex and ethically ambiguous relationship develops between Capote and one of the killers, the quietly threatening Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) The writer helps the condemned men to find a lawyer who will appeal their case-- but Capote is only interested in their story, not their fate.
In the role of the recklessly ambitious socialite author, Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a masterful performance that has to be seen to be believed--from the garrulous jet setter entertaining a party crowd with martini in hand to the guilt-stricken manipulator in the death row cell.
"Capote" is a moodily seductive film, a tragedy about a man who gets what he wants and is ultimately destroyed by it. Just like Truman Capote is drawn in by the small-town police procedural, it is easy to enjoy the film's booze-soaked witticisms, outstanding acting, and elegant 1950s detail--and once the action shifts to death row, it is too late to turn around. Fearfully, we follow the drama to its only possible conclusion: the gallows.