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Film / Capote

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Capote is a 2005 biographical film about author Truman Capote, depicting the events surrounding the writing of his classic non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. Shot mostly in Manitoba during the autumn of 2004, the film was released on September 30, 2005, to coincide with what would have been Capote's 81st birthday. It was written by Dan Futterman and directed by Bennett Miller, with Philip Seymour Hoffman starring in the title role.

The plot of the film begins with the discovery of the dead bodies of the Clutter family on their Kansas farm in late 1959 by a family friend. While reading about the killings in The New York Times, Capote is riveted by the story of the family and contacts William Shawn (Bob Balaban), then-editor of The New Yorker, to announce that he will personally document the tragedy. Along with his childhood friend and fellow writer Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), Capote then travels to Kansas to interview those involved with the case, including the accused killers Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino).

Tropes associated with this work:

  • Caustic Critic: Capote was a prime example of this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: And this.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Perry may be a bastard but even he is disgusted by his fellow murderer, Dick.
    Smith: He's naturally mendacious. If he had a hundred dollars he'd steal a stick of chewing gum.
  • For the Evulz: Dick's apparent motivation.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Best exemplified by the party celebrating the successful launch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Everyone is congratulating Harper Lee on both a great book and a great movie adaptation...except Capote, who is alone and sulking at a bar because it isn't *his* accolades.
    Capote: (to himself) Frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Like Capote's book, the film takes sides between the killers, depicting Smith as more sympathetic and Hickock as more monstrous. Hence some humanizing details on the latter, like his attempt to make restitution to his ex-wife and their children, are left out.
  • It's All About Me: How Capote views the world.
  • Kubrick Stare: Perry Smith does one of these.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: Capote. There's already a Truman for Harry S. Truman.
  • Nominal Hero: Capote is our protagonist, but there's not a whole lot of heroic to him. He's a snob, convinced of his own genius, a jealous and envious man, and an impeccable writer.
  • Protagonist Title: Obviously.
  • Shout-Out: The first time he and Harper Lee have dinner with the Deweys for the first time, Capote talks about his experiences with Humphrey Bogart and John Huston while they were all making Beat the Devil.
  • Sociopathic Hero: How Capote views Perry.
  • Tranquil Fury: Maybe not fury, but certainly annoyance. When Perry foolishly condescends to define a word (something Perry often did in real life), Truman calls him on it, even though he doesn't raise his voice. He's so irritated he ends the visit right then and there.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Perry, according to Truman, as well as his portrayal in the actual book.
  • Younger Than They Look: Capote was 35 years old at the time of the Clutter murders, yet he appears to look like he could reasonably be in his 50s or 60s (the voice Hoffman uses seems to support that).