Bennett Miller, 2005, Canada/USA (98 mins)
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Clifton Collins Jr.
When a Kansas family are murdered at home, author Truman Capote (Hoffman) embarks on a dark journey of the soul, researching his controversial book on the killings, In Cold Blood. Spurred by the connection to his own Southern outsider past, Truman immerses himself in his material, forming complex bonds with the killers in the process.
Despite the murders occurring before the first frame, Capote maintains a constant delivery of dramatic punches as the killers’ fate is postponed and Truman begins unravelling. Hoffman’s unsparing portrait of a man whose sensitivity and charm is offset with vanity and egotism is awesome to behold, and Keener is superbly understated as Truman’s confidante, Harper Lee.
Taking as read the book’s classic status, the film dwells on the dubious responsibility of artist to subject, and tangled contracts of mutual exploitation. Shot in chilly tones with tremendous confidence from first-timer Miller, this is incisive and thrilling cinema. Kate Taylor