Capote is nominated for five Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Supporting Actress (Catherine Keener) and Adapted Screenplay. Dan Futterman, who had read The Journalist and the Murderer by Janet Malcolm, and then Capote: A Biography by Gerald Clarke, was inspired to write the screenplay. The film is about Capote as he researches and writes his most famous book,
In Cold Blood, a work that redefined modern non-fiction.
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Truman Capote, who is an already famous writer for the New Yorker in 1959, when he reads a news article about a family of four senselessly murdered in Kansas. He heads to Kansas to research and write the story of the crime. His traveling companion and friend is Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), a famous author in her own right, who penned the classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Chris Cooper plays the Kansas Bureau of Investigation agent whom Capote wins over during his research.
Capote ends up developing a friendship with one of the murderers, a young man named Perry Smith. Capote witnesses his humanity, and is forever changed by having met and learned to know him. He discovers that he and Perry came from similar backgrounds of maternal abandonment, and says to Harper Lee, “It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he went out the back door and I went out the front.” Despite this identification, Capote shamelessly lies to Perry in order to get him to disclose the story of the murders, stopping at nothing to get his story.
The film is rated R for some violent images and brief strong language. It is just 98 minutes long, and perfectly constructed from beginning to end. Mr. Hoffman gives his best performance yet as the quirky celebrity Capote, whose initial self-centeredness gives way to compassion and grief when the executions finally happen. He paid a high price for getting the story In Cold Blood down on paper, and Mr. Hoffman is able to portray Capote’s turmoil very effectively. In fact, at the end of Capote, I and the rest of the audience sat stunned and quiet as the credits began to roll, collecting our thoughts after a film that illuminated both Truman Capote’s life and the tragedy that became his own.