Capote’s bargain with the devil

Capote (15) PHILIP Seymour Hoffman is the average-looking, deep-throated kind of guy you wouldn t give a second glance to in the usual way of things. Truman Capote, on the other hand, spoke with a high-pitched drawl, wore distinctive clothing and set out

Capote (15)

PHILIP Seymour Hoffman is the average-looking, deep-throated kind of guy you wouldn't give a second glance to in the usual way of things.

Truman Capote, on the other hand, spoke with a high-pitched drawl, wore distinctive clothing and set out to be the mincing centre of attention.

In an acting tour de force Hoffman becomes Capote, absorbing the author's persona as effectively as the winter bleeds out light.


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Capote is one of the finest writers of the 20th century, with a lyrical turn of phrase and a sharp eye for detail and for structure. His 1960s masterpiece, In Cold Blood, kick started the whole genre of drama/documentary in which fiction and fact merged into one sometimes questionable whole.

Capote knew from the moment he read a newspaper item about the murder of a family of four in remote Kansas that this could be the springboard he needed for his next seminal work. He took his childhood friend Harper Lee with him and spent years researching the family, the community and the psyche of the two murderers.

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One, Perry Smith, intrigued and moved him. Smith was articulate, attractive and personable - it was, said Capote, as if they'd grown up in the same house and he'd gone out of the front door while Smith left by the back.

By the end of the film, when Capote has sold out on any compunction or principles he once had, we are forced to ask who committed the worse crime or were they, in their different ways, equally bad?

Capote's bargain with the devil is brought to life by Hoffman, who has to be the Oscar favourite, by director Bennett Miller and an outstanding cast.

Thanks to Cineworld, Stevenage.

SUE FISHER

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