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The Story Behind the Man Behind the Story

Many have heard of him. Even more have seen images of him in his signature dapper hat, sporting rounded spectacles with something flamboyant hanging off his neck (and not necessarily an item of clothing). But how many people really know about Truman Capote? How many people have read the non-fiction novel that once made him the most famous writer in America?

That book being In Cold Blood, a signature work which took him over six years to complete and left him so scarred that he never finished another novel again in his drug-and-alcohol addled life. Author Gerald Clarke wrote his own book exploring this subject and director Bennett Miller brought it to the screen in a wonderful, moving adaptation -- Capote.

The amazingly talented and versatile Philip Seymour Hoffman (don't be surprised if he gets an Oscar nomination for his performance here) plays Truman Capote, urbane, witty, high-pitched and utterly gay during a time when it was not very chic to be so. When he reads an article in The New York Times about the gruesome murders of an entire family in a small, rural town in Kansas, he decides to write about how the killings affected the close-knit town and its community. So he travels to Kansas with his best friend and research assistant Harper Lee (yes, the very author who would go on to write the seminal To Kill a Mockingbird, played here by Catherine Keener with aplomb) to begin his research. Soon one article turns into an in-depth novel.

Capote not only provides insight into the author himself and his experiences writing In Cold Blood but also delves into the subject matter on which he was working. It tells the story of the murders, the townspeople, and even of the murderers, one of whom, Perry Smith (played with memorable intensity by Clifton Collins Jr.), Capote develops a significantly influential relationship with that would go on to haunt him for years to come. The murders as well as this relationship are a story onto themselves and provide the tension and suspense that serves to move the film along.

You don't need to be a book nerd, a fan of Truman Capote or have read In Cold Blood to thoroughly enjoy this film. In fact, it would make the experience that much more enjoyable. And then, afterwards, you can run out and pick up the novel at the library! But, either way, definitely try to catch Capote.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars