The answer – I’m confident – is not you. And in the film, Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman emerges from his minor, character roles in The Big Lebowski and Almost Famous to become a full-fledged, bona fide star; one who’s capable of carrying a film.
Hoffman plays Truman Capote in the true story of an author who – while doing research for his book accounting the murder of a family in rural Kansas – develops a relationship with one of the killers. If you’ve read Capote’s best-selling book, In Cold Blood, (and if you haven’t, please run out to your nearest book store or click over to your favorite Amazon site and buy it right now!), the story is familiar: the Clutter family is inexplicably and brutally killed in rural Kansas, for less than $50.
Beneath the murder story itself, however, this film really seeks to examine the conflict within Truman Capote as he is both repulsed and attracted by this heinous crime. It’s a story that uncovers the terrifying draw towards the dark and chilling aspects of ourselves. It’s a story about humanity and connection. Perry Smith (the murderer who befriends Capote) genuinely bonds with the author while Capote’s motivations remain muddled: are they toward the murderers or his art or both? And ultimately, this is a story evoking Aristotelian catharsis; we pity not only the murderers, but the author who turns cold and confused, never to write another book.