a film by Douglas McGrath
2006 | 113 mins | US
›› Infamous
an acutely observed variation on the theme of Capote.
Infamous by Douglas McGrath Somewhat overshadowed by its eponymous predecessor, this acutely observed variation on the theme of Capote, is in essence an alternative view of the same story.

Namely that of how author Truman Capote traveled to rural Holcomb, Kansas in 1959 alongside his lifelong friend Harper Lee, author of the 1960 bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird, to sample the opinions of the townsfolk over the horrific murders of a local farmer, his wife and their two children. Yet what had began for Capote as an "experiment in journalistic writing" was destined to turn into something far more meaningful. Inparticular when after weeks of painstaking work by the police, the assailants were captured in Las Vegas, only for Capote to subsequently worm his way into the prison cells and thereafter the minds of initial suspects and later convicted In Cold Blood killers Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.

Infamous by Douglas McGrath To that end, this powerful work pays specific attention to the growing bond that develops between Capote and Smith as finely played by Daniel Craig, who was justly riled by the media's obsessive interest in his 007 swimwear, rather than his gripping performance here. Yet it was the nature of their relationship; some say platonic, whilst others cite as sexual, that would come to ignite a bitter feud between Capote and British art critic Kenneth Tynan, who in the pages of The Observer implied that Capote did "less than he might have" to save Hickock and Smith from execution, so as to facilitate a more "effective ending" to his book.

Yet to what degree Capote was more interested in his work, rather than the lives of his subject material, is open to conjecture. What is certain is that such was the shocking nature of their crime, that the executions of Hickock and Smith was something that no one, not even Capote armed with his vast array of social and political contacts, could have prevented taking place at some point.

Openly flamboyant for the time and gay to the core, Toby Jones' remarkable portrayal of Capote, like that of the 2005 Academy® Award winning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman perfectly captures the distinctive high-pitched voice and pretentious mannerisms of the writer, although which is the better impersonation is a question that is best answered by those who knew the man himself. And it is that which separates the two films. For here specific attention has been paid to the views of those who knew Capote, courtesy of the book by George Plimpton upon which writer and director Douglas McGrath based the recollections of his friends, enemies and acquaintances, as played by a supporting cast that many a feature can only but dream of.

Only to reach a dream, a sacrifice most often must be made. Indeed Little Richard once summed up the life of Elvis Presley by noting that "he got what he wanted, but lost what he had." Such words are equally apt here, given Capote's non-fiction novel of the brutal murder of the Clutter family would see him attain the universal literary acclaim that he so desperately sought. Yet in achieving such, he would never be the same man again, given that Smith had become both subject and object of desire, much to the concern of his longtime but socially inept partner Jack Dunphy. In acknowledging such and that of the emotional intensity of the Capote / Smith relationship, many view this as the more accurate depiction of the man behind the infamous book. Need more be said?
UK General Release - October 2006
available on DVD as part of the Warner Home Video catalogue
starring: Toby Jones / Truman Capote, Sandra Bullock / Nelle Harper Lee, Daniel Craig / Perry Smith,
Peter Bogdanovich / Bennett Cerf, Jeff Daniels / Alvin Dewey, Hope Davis / Slim Keith, Gwyneth
Paltrow / Kitty Dean, Isabella Rossellini / Marella Agnelli, Juliet Stevenson /
Diana Vreeland, Sigourney Weaver / Babe Paley, John Benjamin
Hickey / Jack Dunphy and Lee Pace as Dick Hickock.
Copyright 2007 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
archive reference #130
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