(Review originally written at 11 October 2006)

"Capote" might at first sight seem like just another biopic and it was also advertised that way. But beware what to expect when watching this film. In fact this movie is not a biopic at all. The story follows the writer Truman Capote, while doing research for his new book 'In Cold Blood', about the brutal killings of an entire family in a quiet peaceful little town. The movie merely tells the story of one event out of a persons life and does not concentrate at all on the entire life span and/or career of Truman Capote. I applaud this movie for choosing this approach. It makes "Capote" a refreshing movie with a story and main character that you don't see in movies everyday.

But the movie does not only chooses a different approach with its main character, it also chooses a different approach with the story in general. The movie concentrates on the developing compassion of Capote with the two murderers. People always tend and also want to see murderers as nothing more than just cold-hearted monsters, while of course in reality things are far more complex and rarely ever just as simple or black & white. This movie has the guts to show that and tells the story from a different approach. It's one of the reasons why the story is an intriguing one.

Another reason why this movie is intriguing is due to its main character. Truman Capote was an one of a kind person, with his quiet little voice, who didn't hide his homosexuality, unlike most other persons who lived in the same era, and he had his very own style and sense of humor. He was who he was and wasn't afraid to live his life the way he wanted to. It all helps to make "Capote" an unique viewing experience.

Of course the movie is also helped with Philip Seymour Hoffman Oscar winning performance. I, like almost every other movie lover, predicted years ago that Hoffman would once win an Oscar. Ever since his role in "Twister", I followed his career with great interest, wondering when Hoffman's Oscar winning performance would come along. When I first read the premise of this movie I immediately knew that this would be the movie for which he would be rewarded with an Oscar. This movie and his performance have everything in it an Oscar winning performance needs. It's a worthy role winning an Oscar for but to be honest I can't say that I'm too sure about this being Hoffman's best role. Nevertheless this of course doesn't take away that his acting in this movie is outstanding. He basically is strong enough in his acting to carry the movie on his own and he for most part also does so.

Here begins the trouble with this movie as well. It focuses mainly on the main character, leaving the side- also interesting characters, mainly blank and distant. The story could had worked out more powerful and engaging if it had only concentrated more on the other characters- and their emotions, as well. The movie now mostly is nothing more than a one man's show, tour-de-force from Hoffman. The Harper Lee character and Capote's homosexual boyfriend were severely underused in the movie and they could had been used in the movie to provide the movie with some more required depth.

But frankly this is not even my biggest complained about this movie. I found the directing and story flow to be severely lacking. The movie is filled with some way too short sequences. Some sequences are as simple as Capote hanging on the phone in his hotel room and literally 5 seconds later the movie cuts to the next day, outside, in a completely different place. I really didn't liked the story flow and style of directing, although it obviously was done deliberately to give the movie a style and identity of its own. My guess is that director Bennett Miller is a stage director who is not yet experienced enough to also direct full length movies, at least not in the way I like to watch movies.

Besides Hoffman the movie has some other truly excellent actors in it, that unfortunately aren't always given enough room in the movie. Catherine Keener was really, really great as Harper Lee and she truly deserved an Oscar as well. Unfortunately she got nothing more than a nomination. The movie also has the always excellent Chris Cooper and the solid acting Bruce Greenwood in it.

The cinematography is absolutely stunning at times and helps to set the right mood for the movie and its time period. Wonder why it wasn't even nominated for an Oscar. The movie was nominated for 5 Oscars in total, mainly the most important ones (best movie, best directing, best screenplay, best actor in a leading role). The movie only won one in the end, for Hoffman's performance of the main character. It's a typical Oscar worthy movie, based on true events and a real life character but I'm glad it didn't won any of the big awards. It just isn't one of the best of 2005 in my book, which is mainly due to the bad story flow and missed opportunities with the story and characters. "Capote" is a solid movie and perhaps also more than that but in the end it didn't all impressed me as much as I expected and had hoped it would.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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