Capote (2005)

capote poster 2005 movie philip seymour hoffman
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great performance by Hoffman

Story sometimes drags

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Capote

Studio:  A-Line Pictures

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  September 22, 2005 (Telluride Film Festival)/September 30, 2005 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R


Always the life of the party!

In an isolated home in Kansas, four people are murdered in the night leaving a community in terror.  Famed author Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) learns of the murders and sees a potential story.  Traveling to Kansas with his friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), Capote teams with the local authorities led by Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper) to investigate the deaths.  When Perry Smith (Clifton Collins, Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) are caught by police, Truman begins to form a relationship with Perry as he crafts his story.  As Capote’s tale nears the end, who is using whom, and does Capote have the strength to finish his story?


One person in this train is extremely humble…and the other is a raging egomaniac

Directed by Bennett Miller, Capote is a biopic telling the story of Truman Capote’s writing of his defining 1966 novel In Cold Blood from 1959 murders of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas.   The film was critically acclaimed and fared strongly at the box-office for what was considered an art film.  The movie won Hoffman an Oscar for Best Actor and received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

With Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I decided to reexamine Capote.  I hadn’t seen it since the theater and remembered, though it wasn’t my favorite of his films, that he did give a stellar performance.  Rewatching it, I find that the nuances of the performance go a great way to explore a rather interesting script.


I must be dashing!

What I like about this movie is that it isn’t very kind to the main character.  Capote comes off as a user who gets scared when he does get close to his subject.  As a result, Capote gives the character false hope, lies to him, and refuses to offer the help he promised because if Perry goes to the gallows, the problem also goes away.  It is cold, hard, and calculating, and Capote is not portrayed in the most positive light.

Hoffman plays Capote perfectly.  Real footage of Capote shows him as the wispy, flighty character that has a voice that can cut glass and Hoffman pulls it off.  Despite being a showcase for the movie, he actually has some great support in Catherine Keener as fellow author Harper Lee (the train scene does a great job showing their relationship), and Chris Cooper gives a nice performance as the small town cop at first impressed then disappointed in the author.  The relationship between Hoffman’s character and murderer Perry Smith is played strongly by Cliff Collins, Jr. who plays the doomed man.


Maybe he’ll live! (Oh wait…this is history…not fiction)

Visually the movie gets the stark nature of the crime scene.  The film does a good job recreating    .  It also has some great moments when Truman’s life is contrasted with the party filled New York swinging lifestyle.  It also attests to Hoffman’s performance because he’s almost a different person when he’s completely “on” for a crowd.

Capote probably isn’t many people’s favorite Hoffman performances, but it is still one of his best.  The movie found itself in competition with Infamous released in 2006 in which Toby Jones plays the author with Sandra Bullock playing Harper Lee.  In retrospect with Hoffman’s death, Capote, like many of his roles, is a damaged character and possibly he pulled on his own damaged nature to get the performance out of them…it is just too bad that we didn’t get to have decades of Capote level performances from Hoffman.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response