Making a Deal with the Devil
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman,
Catherine Keener, Clifton
Collins, Jr., Chris Cooper,
Bruce Greenwood, Bob Balaban,
Mark Pellegrino, and Amy Ryan
Runtime: 109 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Bennett Miller
Executive Producer: Dan Futterman, Philip Seymour
Hoffman, Kerry Rock, and Danny
Producer: Caroline Baron, William Vince
and Michael Ohoven
Writer: Dan Futterman
Address Comments To:Michael Barker and Tom Bernard
Sony Pictures Classics
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833
Web Page: http://www.sonyclassics.com
By 1959, Capote had become a literary sensation with unique, creative novels like BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S. That year, however, Capote becomes interested in the gruesome murders of four family members in rural Kansas. He decides to write a whole book about the crime, including the victims and the two perpetrators, who turn out to be two drifters. Capote becomes interested in one of the killers, Perry Smith, who seems to be a sensitive young man. Capote is himself a sensitive and witty, but sometimes cruel, homosexual whose childlike voice and fey mannerisms often make people uncomfortable, until they get to know him.
As Capote ingratiates himself with Perry, even to the point of hiring lawyers for him, it becomes clear that he will go to great lengths to get Perry to talk about the night of the murders. Capote constantly lies to Perry to get him to talk. When Perry reveals the truth, however, Capote no longer has a use for the man, especially since he learns that Perry was the actual one who brutally murdered the family members. When the judicial review of Perry’s death sentence drags on for years, Capote prays for his demise so that he can finish his book. Capote’s actions come at a high personal cost, however. He becomes wracked with guilt and turns to alcoholism, the affliction that destroyed his own mother. Eventually, a tremendous case of writer’s block followed the stupendous success of the publication of IN COLD BLOOD. As the movie’s epilogue states, Capote never finished another novel after that.
It is hard to identify with Truman Capote, even more so the two killers he interviews, but Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers an excellent performance of this strange, often annoying, little man. It becomes clear in the movie that Truman and Perry are attracted to one another, but also that they both need each other. Truman needs Perry to finish his book, and Perry needs Capote’s help so he won’t be executed. In the end, Truman can’t publish the book until Perry is executed. The very title of Truman’s book, IN COLD BLOOD, will, in the end, ensure that Perry’s legacy will not be a good one.
CAPOTE the movie contains some strong foul language, brief extreme violence and references to homosexuality. It is a movie for adults who might want to know more about the life of this influential writer and the creation of his most influential work.
The biggest problem with it, as with most true crime reporting, is that it neglects the crime victims at the expense of trying to understand the motives and behaviors of the evil criminals. After seeing the movie, a viewer might very well wonder if writing a book about a horrible crime is really worth it, no matter how well-written the book? Of course, without a consideration of God, biblical virtues and/or the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the ultimate worth of any book, or any movie for that matter, is suspect. There is something to be said, however, for the positive value of “mere” entertainment, as well as that of artistic expression. CAPOTE is an engrossing movie that offers some insight into the character and life of one man and the people he encountered at one important point in his life.
It is hard to identify with Truman Capote, even more so the two killers he interviews, but Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers an excellent performance of this strange, often annoying, little man. The movie contains some strong foul language, brief extreme violence and references to Capote’s homosexuality. It is a movie for the very few who might want to know more about the life of this influential writer and the creation of his most influential work.