Capote ★★★★½

"Sometimes when I think how good my book is going to be, I can't breathe."

Capote showcases subtlety in the best way possible. The low-key cinematography and lighting, the contained performances, and lack of any flashy camera or editing techniques all work in the films favor. Quite ironic when you consider that Truman Capote wasn't quite subtle about his opinions or beliefs about himself.

Instead of painting Capote as a monster who lied and manipulated people into getting what he wanted or showing him as someone who we should sympathize for, first-time director Bennett Miller confidently aims for middle ground and succeeds in doing so. Capote comes off as a human being, albeit a troubled one. He nevery seems to really know what he wants, whether it's to have fame and success for himself, or if he truly wants to help out murderer Perry Smith, played brilliantly Clifton Collins Jr. , who he seems to benjoy connecting with. If anything, it seems like he just wanted to liked by everyone, no matter the cost.

A scene early on in film finds Capote with life-long best friend Harper Lee (played by Catherine Keener) on a train heading to Kansas. During this scene, one of the workers comes in to tell Capote how much he loves his work and that he thinks he's a phenomenal writer. As soon as he leaves, Lee turns to Capote and tells him that she knows he paid that worker to say that. They then laugh it off like it's nothing, but that really hit me. More so than the brief scenes of graphic violence or the emotional scenes between Capote and Smith in the prison, this scene tells us more about the titular character than anything else in the film. And what's funny is that your typical moviegoer probably wouldn't have even caught or noticed this. Subtlety at its finest.

Without ever feeling pretentious, Capote shows a troubled, but talented man, brought to life by the great Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a performance that never comes off as "showy", but is undoubtedly powerful and definitely impactful as well (he did win an Oscar for this role). His performance carries the film towards a wave of huge praise, which the film rightfully deserves. Not necessarily a by-the-books biopic, but an insightful tease at a very interesting human being seen here during the most popular and important years of his life. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible.

Grade: A-

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