Philip Seymour Hoffman gives an exceptional impersonation of writer/personality Truman Capote in this considered, serious biopic. Capote revolutionised journalism with In Cold Blood, his 1966 "non-fiction novel" (previously serialised in The New Yorker) telling the story of a brutal small-town murder and the trial of the two hick killers. The film suggests Capote bought fame at the price of his soul and presents this as a tragedy. It is sombre and a touch self-important, but involving.
Hoffman is a terrific actor and this showy role - squeaky voice, real-life person, personal anguish - is an Oscar magnet. His relationship with friend Harper Lee (the excellent Catherine Keener), whose novel To Kill A Mockingbird makes her famous as the film progresses, is affecting. And yet underneath the flair and flamboyance of Hoffman, the film lacks heart. It is stately and considered but rarely real. It is also arguably guilty of the moral crime it presents Capote as committing: of exploiting real-life horror for his own personal gain. Capote becomes a hollowed out, sad figure and we are supposed to care yet the real tragedy remains the butchered family and the shattered community he exploited.
"TECHNICALLY TOP-DRAWER ACTING"
Journalists may recognise elements of themselves in the movie (which might explain the generally rapturous reviews), its story is fascinating if you're unfamiliar with it and it does provoke thought. Hoffman's turn is technically top-drawer acting, too, but if you want a real examination of love, grief and a shattered life then search his back catalogue and rent Love Liza. The Academy wasn't interested in it. But you should be.