Directed by: Bennett Miller
Written by: Dan Futterman
Produced by: Caroline Baron, Michael Ohoven, William Vince
Runtime: 114 minutes
Chances of winning?
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s much acclaimed performance surely earned the film some decent number of votes for Best Picture. It’s a highly respected film, but it’s a film that could have been hard to love due to the film’s very bleak nature and atmosphere, and the project itself did not seem to be one of those films obviously aiming for the top prize. The hype for Hoffman was indeed enough to give him a Best Actor, but maybe not enough to give the film some considerable amount of steam it needs to become a threat for the win. I guess it had the fourth highest number of votes.
The film starts with the Clutter killings in Kansas, Texas. In the murder, all of the members of the family involved were murdered. This gets the attention social and literary icon Truman Capote. With the help of his friend Nelle Harper Lee, also a writer, they go to Kansas to ask around the town for information regarding the murder, as Truman finds the murder rather interesting and it could possibly be the topic of an article that he will write.
Upon the search the police holds, they have caught the two men responsible for the murder. With his interest furthers, he decides to meet with them, especially with Perry Smith. He helps them appeal for them to be able to stay longer, but that s because Truman is so attached to his work; he decided to make his research from the originally planned article to a nonfiction novel, the first of its kind. He keeps them alive, but simply because he simply needs to gather more information from Perry.
Without Perry’s foreknowledge, Truman publishes his novel, making it his most successful work. He was able to gain fame from the book he wrote but at expense are the lives of the two men who were eventually executed by hanging. Even with his newly claimed glory and prestige, the damage that his relationship with Perry cost him peace of mind for the rest of his life.
The fascinating thing about the film is that, it was so quiet and so subtle, but there is always so disturbing and bleak on the way the story was executed that it is just undeniable that you’ll be at the edge of your seat, and a lot of that is to be owed to the masterful and precise direction. Serene but very disturbing, the film is all about atmosphere.
The almost sterile cinematography effectively suggests the unsettling nature of the story, allowing the continuous inching in of the grit beneath the pristine quality of the images. Another thing to notice is the specificity in the work of the production design. It enhances the mood of the film, filling each scene with the gloom of the past held with the unusual placement of lights to further heighten the restrained melancholy. Also worth noticing is the impeccable costume design.
The supporting actors are very impressive.
Chris Cooper portrays the detective Alvin Dewey with steel determination and warm interior. He works out the simple situations he is in to put forward a full character that is filled with certainty and doubt.
Catherine Keener makes an exciting character out of a very tactful woman Harper Lee. She is the life of the film, almost the conscience of Truman, but she is no angel. She gets to showcase the humor of this woman that supplies Truman the necessary energy from a friend to keep him from being somber. But even if she plays with the character with the fun in it, she does not neglect the restraint the character demands.
Clifton Collins, Jr. fares better with a performance that demonstrates the delicate and wounded soul of a man that is nowhere near being a saint but nowhere far from being a real human being. His rendition of Perry Smith is a powerful weapon that makes the movie work on a higher level. He is threatening enough for his character of being a criminal be credible, and he does not lose that, but when he slowly bears his soul to us in the scene where he retells the night of the murder, he knocks it out, making us feel the emotions the character have. He does not validate the sin he committed, but he merely places us in a position where we could see his side. In every facial gesture, he paints the painful facade in his face that he desperately covers with the regret and uncertainty he experiences. He is the film’s secret weapon.
But the one to watch with all its glory is Philip Seymour Hoffman as the titular character Truman Capote. The role itself looks extremely difficult to pull off because the character itself is larger-than-life and it would be very easy to resort to mimicry, but instead, Hoffman pulls all these strings together to create a fully rounded character that puts his performance among the masterclasses of film acting. The voice could have been easy to mimic, but Hoffman delivers each line as if he owns it, providing a very realistic and disturbing person. Surprisingly, amidst all the requirements demanded to the actor to be the character, the performance itself is very much reserved. It is all buried inside – the ambitions, the certainties, the uncertainties – and he lets the audience discover it as the story unfolds. Hoffman is not self-aware, and that makes the performance even more deserving of notice. The transformation itself is haunting, a true virtuoso work.
It is clean-cut filmmaking that surprisingly marks a very strong effect even after the credits roll. The film is a tragedy for Truman, for Perry, for the victims. It illustrates how we humans inflict damage to each other with us not even noticing it. It shows of a sterile front, but beneath that is the startling, thrilling, and intense tale of danger in our society. Deliciously crafted with care, the film delivers greatness.
For this, the film gets:
So, agree or disagree?