20 October 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: "Infamous"

October 20, 2006 02:37 PM EDT
© 2006 by Digital Dogs

Though worthy of being remembered on its own, Infamous will likely always be known as "the other Truman Capote film." That's really too bad, as this film delves deeper into both Truman's life and his relationship with the killers he wrote about, focusing especially on Capote's relationship with killer Perry Smith during the writing of his greatest, and last, book, In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences.

Taken from the oral biography by George Plimpton, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. This book of interviews with Capote friends covering the same period of time as the other Capote film (1959-1965) helps give Infamous a more realistic and urbane look at the New York society Capote cavorted about within.

A true friend to famous rich society ladies-who-lunch – most likely because Capote was no threat to the rich and powerful men they were married to – Capote loved nothing more than to sit in elite New York restaurants and gossip over long boozy lunches and parties with his socialite girlfriends.

Gossiping served Capote well as he is shown here snaking his way into the hearts and minds of the people who were close to the Clutter family in Kansas, the family who's murder was depicted in Truman Capote's last book, In Cold Blood. The book was a huge bestseller and created a new type of reportage that all current celebretainment magazines now feature.

Lovely cameo appearances of Capote's real life gal pals include brief performances by Gwyneth Paltrow playing Peggy Lee singing in an opening scene, Signourney Weaver as Babe Paley (wife of William Paley, founder of CBS, and famous for the saying "One can never be too rich or too thin"), Juliet Stevenson as fashionista editor Diana Vreeland, Hope Davis as Slim Keith, Issabella Rossellini as Marella Agnelli. There are more lengthy and interesting supporting performances by Peter Bogdonovich as columnist Bennett Cerf and, in yet another forgettable whitebread performance, Jeff Daniels as policeman Alvin Dewey, who knew the Clutter family and was protective of their memory.

Sandra Bullock as Capote's lifelong childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee, turns in her first real grownup role – played with gravitas and an excellent Southern accent - and Daniel Craig's Perry Smith is excellently menacing and desperate for attention. Craig plays gritty low class criminals with expertise, leaving this reviewer to wonder how he could possibly play an urbane and witty James Bond. It will be interesting to see if Craig can rise to play 007, with his apparently small stature - he is only slightly taller than the diminutive Jones - blond features, and petty criminal looks.

Playing Truman Capote is English stage actor Toby Jones who does a marvelous job and is as deserving of an Oscar as was Philip Seymour Hoffman for his role in 2005's Truman film, Capote. Jones has had minor supporting roles in various films (Mrs Henderson Presents, Finding Neverland, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), but is mostly unknown to American audiences and his Capote will surprise you as it is so close to the real Truman. Bullock adds a dose of reality to Jones' Capote as his lifelong friend, companion, liaison, assistant, and author (To Kill a Mocking Bird, for which she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961).

Capote and Infamous will, no doubt, long be compared to each other. It's quite interesting to see two films about the same person focusing on the same period of time, but each with different focuses. Both certainly depend on the lead performances and Jones is particularly appropriate as he is as small a man as was Capote. He adopts the same fey Capote attitude and affected speech patterns, but in this Capote we also see a man yearning for love, even though he is shown here as having a lifelong significant other. The two films are different in a significant aspect, Infamous shows us how Capote becomes engrossed with one of the killers of the Clutter family, Perry Smith, during many intimate moments Truman spent in Smith's cell. Each begins to reveal facts about themselves to the other and they find that they have much in common, fathers who disappeared from their lives, mothers who were depressed and committed suicide, and both were clearly greedy for any attention they could get. In this film their commonalities connect the two and Truman was greatly affected by Smith's death.

The last half of the film focuses on the development of their relationship and provides a possible answer as to why Capote never had another book in him after Smith was hung for his crime. The scenes in Smith's cell show us a long protracted courtship between the two, culminating in a prison sex scene, and give a possible explanation for Capote's behavior afterwards. Capote finds himself waiting for his love to die so he can achieve the end of his book. And that end kills him as well, Truman Capote never finished another book, even though he was working on one even during the last days of Smith's life, it was called Answered Prayers and was published posthumously. Desperation for attention, and regret for the lives lived were what really connected these two.


Digital Dogs rating: A

MPAA rating: Rated R for language, violence and some sexuality.

Running Time: 118 minutes

Producers Jocelyn Hayes, Sidney Kimmel, Anne Walker-McBay, Christine Vachon, Director Douglas McGrath, Screenplay Douglas MvGrath from the book by George Plimpton, Music Rachel Portman, Editor Camilla Toniolo, DP Bruno Delbonnel, Actors Toby Jones, Daniel Craig, Signourney Weaver, Gwyneth Paltrow, Juliet Stevenson, Hope Davis, Sandra Bullock, Isabella Rossellini, Peter Bogdonovich

Digital Dogs



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home