Capote (film)

Capote is a 2005 biographical drama film about American novelist Truman Capote directed by Bennett Miller, and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in the titular role. The film primarily follows the events during the writing of Capote's 1965 nonfiction book In Cold Blood. The film was based on Gerald Clarke's 1988 biography Capote. It was released September 30, 2005, coinciding with Capote's birthday. The film became a box office success and received acclaim from critics for Hoffman's lead performance. It eventually won several awards, and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Miller, Best Supporting Actress for Keener, and Best Adapted Screenplay, with Hoffman winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Capote Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBennett Miller
Screenplay byDan Futterman
Based onCapote
by Gerald Clarke
Produced by
CinematographyAdam Kimmel
Edited byChristopher Tellefsen
Music byMychael Danna
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release dates
  • September 2, 2005 (2005-09-02) (Telluride)
  • September 30, 2005 (2005-09-30) (United States)
  • October 28, 2005 (2005-10-28) (Canada)
Running time
114 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Budget$7 million[2]
Box office$50 million[2]


In 1959, the bodies of the Clutter family are discovered on their Kansas farm. While reading The New York Times, Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is riveted by the story and calls The New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) to tell him that he plans to document the tragedy.

Capote travels to Kansas, inviting childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) to come along. He intends to interview those involved with the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and facilitator. Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, brushes him off. Still, Dewey's wife Marie (Amy Ryan) is a fan of Capote's writing and persuades her husband to invite Capote and Lee to their house for dinner.

Capote's stories of movie sets and film stars captivate Marie. Over time, her husband warms to Capote and allows him to view the photographs of the victims. The Deweys, Lee, and Capote are having dinner when the murder suspects, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard "Dick" Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), are caught. Flattery, bribery, and a keen insight into the human condition facilitate Capote's visits to the prison where the accused are held.

Capote begins to form an attachment to Smith. He informs Shawn of his intent to expand the story into a full-length book. Following the trial and conviction, after which both Smith and Hickock are sentenced to death, Capote gains continued access to the murderers by bribing Warden Marshall Krutch (Marshall Bell).

Capote spends the following years regularly visiting Smith and learning about his life, excepting a year-long stint when he goes to Morocco and Spain to write the "first three parts" of the book, accompanied by his romantic partner Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood).

The story of Smith's life, his remorseful manner, and his emotional sincerity impress Capote, who becomes emotionally attached to him despite the gruesome murders. Capote aids Smith and Hickock by obtaining expert legal counsel for them and initiating an appeal. Still, he is frustrated, as Smith declines to relate exactly what happened the night of the murders.

Though initially an effort to provide proper representation and extend Capote's opportunity to speak with the killers, the appeals process drags on for several years. Without the court case being resolved, Capote feels he is stuck with a story without an ending, and he is unable to complete his book. Eventually, he gets Smith to describe the killings and his thoughts at the time in great detail. He has what he wants from Smith, but he sees a callousness and selfishness in his own actions in the process.

Now with everything in hand, Capote still must wait for the appeals process to conclude before he feels he can publish his work. Over time, Lee's best-selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird is turned into a movie, but Capote is unable to share in the joy of his friend's success, too caught up in drinking through his own misery.

With the last appeal rejected, Smith pleads for Capote to return before he is executed, but Capote cannot bring himself to do so. A telegram from Smith to Harper Lee ultimately compels Capote to return to Kansas. There he is an eyewitness as Smith and Hickock are executed.

Capote talks to Lee about the horrifying experience and laments that he could not do anything to stop it. She replies, "Maybe not. The fact is you didn't want to." While returning home, Capote looks through photos from the case and at the writings and drawings given to him by Smith.

An epilogue points out that In Cold Blood turned Capote into the most famous writer in America, also noting that he never finished another book. A postscript gives the epigraph he would have chosen for the title of Answered Prayers: "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones",[3] a quote from Saint Teresa of Ávila.[4]



Box officeEdit

Capote grossed $28.8 million in the United States and Canada and $21.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $50 million. DVD/Blu-ray sales totaled $17 million by 2018. The production budget was $7 million.[2]

Critical responseEdit

Capote received wide acclaim from critics, with Hoffman's performance the subject of particular praise. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 89% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 8.20/10 based on 197 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Philip Seymour Hoffman's riveting central performance guides a well-constructed retelling of the most sensational and significant period in author Truman Capote's life."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 88 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[6] Roger Ebert gave the film a full four-star rating, stating: "Capote is a film of uncommon strength and insight, about a man whose great achievement requires the surrender of his self-respect."[7]


Home mediaEdit

Capote was released on VHS (as a public screener only) and DVD on March 14, 2006. It got American Blu-ray releases on February 17, 2009, October 8, 2012, and January 6, 2015.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Capote". London, England: British Film Institute. Archived from the original on January 14, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Capote (2005)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  3. ^ Shelley, Peter (2017). Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Life and Work. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-476-66243-5.
  4. ^ Ahern, Rosemary, ed. (2012). The Art of the Epigraph. How Great Books Begin. New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-451-69327-0.
  5. ^ "Capote (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  6. ^ "Capote Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Capote". Retrieved August 20, 2015.

External linksEdit