DVD Review: Capote

In Cold Blood

In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman's untimely passing, I decided to revisit a film of his that I actually didn't like. I had kind of a weird reaction to Capote the first time I saw it, and now I realize that I sort of misunderstood it. 

You know the story, Truman Capote (Hoffman) was a writer who heard about the terrible murder of the Clutter family in Kansas, and went to write a story about it with his friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). Once they've caught the killers, Capote forms a bond with one of them, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr) and initially tries to get them a better lawyer. He ends up writing an entire novel on the case.

The mistake I made when first watching this was not really understanding Capote's motives here. I saw them as glorifying a murderer, no matter how bad said murderer's home life was prior. In Cold Blood to me always felt a little disrespectful to the Clutter family. There were a few quotes in the film that I never put a lot of thought in. The first, being "It's like Perry and I were raised in the same house, but I went out the front door and he went out the back." and "The fact is, you didn't want to." which is something Harper says to Truman towards the end of the film. I realized that while Capote initially related to Perry's troubled childhood, he never fully sympathized with him. He knew the whole time, and honestly, I don't think Capote ever wanted to truly get them off death row. He just had morbid curiosity.

Now do I think the film is a masterpiece on my 2nd viewing? Not really. It still falls a little flat, but I feel like I got a better understanding of it this time around. Hoffman and Keener really are wonderful. If you've heard a recording of Capote's voice, Hoffman really nailed it. I'm glad I took the time to revisit this. I just wish it wasn't Hoffman's death that prompted me to do so.

Recommended: Yes 

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "The fact is, you didn't want to." - Harper Lee (Catherine Keener)

7 comments:

  1. I really responded to this when I saw it, thanks to Miller's brilliant direction. It felt so cold and so calculated, but in a really inspired way. I'm glad that you liked this better the second time around.

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    1. Me too. You're right about it feeling cold and calculated. That's a good way to describe it.

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  2. I kinda thought that Capote was glorifying the murders when I first saw it too, but then again I think he did it just for the book. Doesnt make it right, but that's what I got. Hoffman is good and that's the only thing I took away from this. Have you seen Infamous with Toby Jones as Capote and Sandra Bullock as Harper Lee. It came out a few years later and deals with the same issues I think. Great review

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    1. I haven't seen Infamous. I remember when it came out how everyone compared it to Capote and said it wasn't as good. I think if that came available on Instant Netflix, I'd check it out to compare.

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  3. I really want to see this, not only for the performance but I really don't know much about the story other than what everyone knows (does that make sense?). Anyway, great post! Now to track this f--ker down...

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