One sentence to describe Capote, the film, is that it is beautifully acted by its lead, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
In a tradition of biopic films with the title directly indicating the subject, strong and believable performances are the main essential to capture the stark truth personality often hidden under the face value. Ray and Jamie Foxx are two inseparable units, when we see Foxx on the big screen marching through the decades of the famed musician’s tumultuous life, we see a live version of Ray Charles himself, retelling the story and the carrying the persona as is. Almost.
In less than a year, the benchmark is elevated by Hoffman in his stellar portrayal of the famous author who at any given time was more than willing to do anything to make him, puns intended, infamous. The first scene set on a train when he paid a porter to praise him in front of his close friend, Nelle (played with soothing manner by always reliable Catherine Keener), both shows his yearning for attention while also emphasizing his arrogance of intellect and social status. While we are taken to every single disbelieving acts of his doings, Hoffman constantly pushes himself in hardly mimicking the elusive style of Capote, but often terrify the bemused audience in wondering, if Hoffman literally gets the character he is playing under his own skin.
The toughness of the role painstakingly brings to life by Hoffman, earning our admiration and respect despite many despicable acts of Capote in exploiting his subjects, particularly to the inmates he nurtured in the book he was working on in the film, which later became his most famous work, In Cold Blood.
Thus, the class-act could not happen had it not been for the very focused script by Dan Futterman and the deft direction of Bennett Miller in bringing up the story that circles within the period of 6 years in Capote’s life of making the book. The limited time span allows further probe of a person’s life rather than condensing a span of a lifetime in limited time of 2 hours, which often unfairly cut out some essential parts in the noted life, and not to mention that specified time span will enable the actor playing the role to transform himself gradually without necessarily rushing from one make-up change to another, something that might actually endanger the film’s brilliance had it been conceptualized that other way.
For sure, some limitation enables one to focus sharply, just like what the film does, and never us as audience gets deterred througout watching the entire film. This is a brilliant biopic.