capoteAs promised, I’m comparing the two Capote biopics, Infamous (which I reviewed below) and Capote, the Philip Seymour Hoffman film, directed by Bennett Miller with screenplay by actor/writer Dan Futterman. Each film was based on a biography – Gerald Clarke’s book, Capote for the film of the same title and Infamous based on George Plimpton’s book, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career.

I don’t remember the two films being so starkly different but indeed ten years later there are clear disparities. As light and fun and dare I say romantic Infamous paints Capote during the research and writing of In Cold Blood, Capote the film takes a decidedly somber, dark, and self-absorbed path to the famous story. Philip Seymour Hoffman creates his Capote not only out of a haze of depression, but clearly shows the writer’s drive, ambition, and complete disregard for anything or anyone who doesn’t support his vision. As smitten Toby Jones’ Capote becomes over Perry Smith, Hoffman’s character uses charm and wit to drain every last ounce of privacy Smith had over his own story.

In the end, I’m not sure which version I prefer. Surely Infamous is easier to watch. It’s fun. It doesn’t hint at the Capote/Smith relationship as the film Capote does. Daniel Craig’s character kisses Toby Jones’ Capote twice and appears to have killed the father and son due to being queer baited by his straight buddy in the Infamous version. Capote creates a complex story and atmosphere with help from outstanding featured actors including Catherine Keener (a more realistic Harper Lee), Clifton Jones, Jr. as Perry Smith, Chris Cooper, Bruce Greenwood, Amy Ryan, and Bob Balaban. It’s full of angst and quiet taking a more serious road. 4 out of 5 for Capote.


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