Capote is a 2005 American biographical drama film about American novelist Truman Capote directed by Bennett Miller, and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in the title 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 on September 30, 2005, coinciding with what would've been Capote's 81st birthday.

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$49.9 million[2]

The film became a box office success and received acclaim from critics for Hoffman's lead performance. It won several awards, and was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Miller, Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Keener, and Best Adapted Screenplay, with Hoffman winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Plot edit

In 1959, the Clutter family murders take place on their Kansas farm. While reading The New York Times, Truman Capote is riveted by the story and calls The New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn to tell him that he plans to document the tragedy.

Capote travels to Kansas, inviting childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee to come along. He intends to interview those involved with the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and facilitator. Alvin Dewey, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, brushes him off. Still, Dewey's wife Marie 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 and Richard "Dick" Hickock, 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.

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.

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 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 callousness and selfishness in his own actions in the process.

With everything now in hand, Capote still must wait for the appeals process to conclude before he feels he can publish his work. 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 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.

A textual epilogue notes that In Cold Blood made Capote the most famous writer in America; that Capote never finished another book, dying in 1984 from complications due to alcoholism; and that he chose a quote from Saint Teresa of Ávila – "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones"[3][4] – as the epigraph for his unfinished final novel.

Cast edit

Reception edit

Box office edit

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 response edit

Capote received widespread 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 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]

Accolades edit

Capote won several awards, including the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film,[8] and was named one of the top ten films of the year by both the American Film Institute[9] and the National Board of Review.[10] It was nominated for five Academy Awards and five British Academy Film Awards, including for best film, best director (for Miller), best supporting actress (for Catherine Keener) and best adapted screenplay (for Futterman), with Hoffman winning the award for best actor at both ceremonies.[11][12] In addition to the Academy Award and British Academy Film Award, Hoffman won the Golden Globe Award[13] and Screen Actors Guild Award[14] as well as awards from numerous critics groups for his performance.[8][10][15][16] Furthermore, director Miller won the Gotham Independent Film Award for Breakthrough Director[17] and received a nomination at the Directors Guild of America Awards,[18] and Futterman's screenplay was nominated at the Writers Guild of America Awards.[19]

Historical accuracy edit

To gain access to Smith and Hickock while they were on Death Row, Capote is shown bribing the warden. This incident is based on a quote from Clarke's biography[20] but appears to be incorrect. According to fact checkers, Warden Sherman Crouse initially denied Capote access due to prison regulations which restricted contact with prisoners to immediate family and legal counsel. Capote then retained the firm of Saffels & Hope, who approached the governor of the state and worked out a deal.[21]

No non-fiction sources (including Clarke's) assert that Capote attempted to secure legal representation for Smith and Hickock as is shown in the film. The initial appeal was handled by public defenders and subsequent appeals by the Kansas Legal Aid Society after they were contacted by Hickock. This is mentioned in Capote's book[21] and there is no evidence he ever offered to help find a lawyer.[20]

Capote mainly corresponded with Hickock and Smith through letters, visiting them in person fewer than half a dozen times. Extended stays at the prison are fictionalized, although some confrontations are based on real letters.[21][22]

Home media edit

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 also edit

References edit

  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.
  8. ^ a b Hernandez, Eugene (January 9, 2006). "Capote Named Best Picture of '05 By National Society of Film Critics". IndieWire. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  9. ^ "AFI Awards 2005: AFI Movies of the Year". American Film Institute. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Mohr, Ian (December 12, 2005). "NBR in 'Good' mood". Variety. Archived from the original on September 18, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  11. ^ "The 78th Academy Awards (2006) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). Archived from the original on November 9, 2014. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  12. ^ "British Academy Film Awards 2006". British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  13. ^ "Live coverage of 2006 Golden Globes". Variety. January 16, 2006. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "SAG Awards 2006: Full list of winners". BBC News. January 30, 2006. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  15. ^ Seif, Dena (January 9, 2006). "Crix scale Mountain". Variety. Archived from the original on September 13, 2020. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  16. ^ King, Susan (December 11, 2005). "L.A. Film Critics Honor Brokeback". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  17. ^ Mohr, Ian (November 30, 2005). "IFP honors to Capote". Variety. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  18. ^ "Nominees for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film for the Year 2005". Directors Guild of America. January 5, 2006. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (January 4, 2006). "WGA Announces Nominees for Writers Guild Awards". IndieWire. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  20. ^ a b "Capote adds more half-truths to the murky story behind In Cold Blood". February 7, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2022. The only evidence for Capote having bribed his way into Death Row is a quote (unattributed, but apparently from Capote) in Clarke's biography: "I went for broke and asked for an interview with this behind-the-scenes figure, who was a man of great distinction and renown in that state. 'I'll give you ten thousand dollars if you can arrange this,' I said. … I guess my offer was very tempting, and he just nodded his head."
  21. ^ a b c "'Capote' vs. Capote". April 2006. Retrieved October 20, 2022. While an unattributed comment in Clarke's biography suggests that money changed hands, there's no evidence that it went to the warden
  22. ^ "Capote adds more half-truths to the murky story behind In Cold Blood". February 7, 2014. Retrieved October 20, 2022. In real life, he did not spend days and weeks with Smith, as the film implies. Most of their relationship was conducted by letter. Yet the film does capture and explore the peculiar tenor of that relationship. The powerful scene in which the betrayed Smith yells at Capote, "What's the name of your book?" is based on a letter the real Perry Smith wrote to Capote on 12 April 1964: "I've been told that the book is to be coming off the press and to be sold after our executions. And that book IS entitled 'IN COLD BLOOD.' Whose [sic] fibbing?? Someone is, that's apparent."

External links edit