Wednesday, April 19, 2006


When Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor I wasn't sure what to make of it. The man is a fine actor, no doubt, but from the trailers and scenes I had seen he seemed to be doing more of an impression than playing a role, a pitfall any actor portraying a well known public figure can fall into. Example, Jamie Foxx. Ray was an excellent biopic and I enjoyed it, but I never had the sense that I was watching anything more than a Jamie Foxx impersonation. Of course I don't know a whole hell of a lot about Truman Capote other than a few titles he authored, so that probably helped me see him as a character instead of an actor in a role. But back to it, Hoffman does a magnificent job in the role. From the outset he plays Capote as an extroverted socialite, more interested in being perceived as witty and clever at cocktail parties than anything, until he reads about the horrific murder of a midwestern family. Determined to write an article about the murders and their effect on the town, he sets out for Kansas and finds that there's more than a magazine articles worth of story to tell, and begins the process of gathering information for a "non-fiction novel," a new idea in literature that he feels will catapult him into the upper stratosphere of literary stardom. He becomes friendly with the killers, helping them find lawyers to appeal their conviction in order to keep them alive long enough for him to get the information he wants, and even begins to develop a bond with one of them, all the while aware the he is using them solely for his own personal ends. He gives a reading and it's a smashing success, and we watch as he revels in the adulation he recieves from luminaries like Tennessee Williams and George Bernard Shaw, and as his publisher exclaims that this will change the way people write. As time passes, however, he finds himself tortured by the knowledge that he is attached to a cold blooded killer and willfully aiding his legal appeals in order to further his own career. In the pivotal scene he finally gets Perry to describe the night of the murders to him, and we watch as he goes from cocky and assured writer that's finally getting his story to a horrified, sickened man who's just now realized what he's been doing. It becomes more than he can bear and he suffers a nervous breakdown upon completion of the book. It's this latter part of the movie is where Hoffman earns his pay, and earn it he does.


Blogger Newspaper Hack said...

Yeah, I saw this film a while back, and I have to say it was worth every penny. Nice to see an Alabama writer make good, even if it was while documenting the killing of innocent people.

10:04 PM  

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