There are great performances and there are performances where an actor completely becomes their character. Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Truman Capote was exactly that. Capote can be so easily caricatured and difficult to seriously imitate convincingly. Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote was not over the top, and more importantly, human. However, he wasn’t the only one to do this in “Capote.”
There’s this one guy that you may have seen in past movies, enjoyed his role but then forgot about him once the movie was over. His name is Clifton Collins Jr. He disappears into his roles consistently and he hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention as he deserves. In “Capote”, he plays Perry Smith who felt so unstable and unpredictable that I found myself feeling both sympathy for him and fear for Capote’s safety. That sounds simple, but seriously, it’s hard to emanate two conflicting natures in a character with few words.
I was especially interested in Nelle Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Harper Lee and Capote were childhood friends, so I was curious to see how their characters got along together in “Capote.” Catherine Keener played Lee and it was exactly how I imagined it. Keener wasn’t over-dramatic and her chemistry with Hoffman fed the childhood friends vibe.
One last thing I liked was the movie’s focus. Often, stories either put the focus in the right place or just completely lack one. “Capote” had a target and kept to it. Truman Capote sums it up saying “It’s the hardest when someone has a notion about you and it’s impossible to convince them otherwise.” This was true even for Capote with his own notions about Perry Smith. It was a well done film about judgement, sympathy, reflection, and guilt.