Sunday, March 6, 2016

Truman lives up to his name
Capote: a story of the man in the mirror

I watched Capote again--Hulu was promoting it as a feature film tonight. A riveting film, the movie is about the making of Truman Capote's renowned book, "In Cold Blood".

I read the book a long time ago; I was just out of college. It was riveting, chilling and un-put-downable. Called a non-fiction novel for the creative licenses that some thought Truman took, it could be argued this this bio-pic took the same license with Truman's life.

The film is the back story of how Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman), with the help of Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), wormed his way into the small town of Holcomb, Kansas to inject himself into the chief of police's (Chris Cooper) home, the investigation and, ultimately, the murderers' prison cells.

Ultimately, the movie's lens lands upon Truman's relationship with one of the murderers, Perry Smith. Perry, articulate, artistic and charming, is the product of a transient Cherokee mother and a violent, alcoholic father.

"It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front," he explains to Harper. And she, of all people, knew about Truman's own troubled childhood.

So accurate is Hoffman's performance that when Truman rolls into a fetal position on his bed, you see Dill Harris in his back-of-the-head cowlick and sloped shoulders. As Virginia Woolfe said, "A true picture of man as a whole can never be painted until a [person] has described that spot [at the back of his head] the size of a shilling." In that moment, you see his childish fear and insecurity.

Truman, so self-involved that he began writing his acceptance speech before he even started writing the book, was conflicted enough by his relationship with Perry that he drank his way through Harper Lee's movie opening. This was the beginning his eventual alcoholism and the end of his friendship with Harper Lee.

A truer man has never spoken, or in Truman's case, written again.