is a 2006 American drama film written and directed by Douglas McGrath
. It is based on George Plimpton
's 1997 book, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career
and covers the period from the late 1950s through the mid-1960s, during which Truman Capote
researched and wrote his bestseller In Cold Blood
Curious as to how the residents would react to a brutal massacre in their midst, the author and his friend, Nelle Harper Lee
(Sandra Bullock), who has just published her novel To Kill a Mockingbird
, travel from New York to the rural Midwestern town, ostensibly so Capote can interview people for a magazine article. Once there, he realizes there might be enough material for what he eventually describes as a "nonfiction novel
Capote's dress and demeanor both amuse and dismay law enforcement officials. He allows the less ostentatious Lee to act as a buffer between himself and those whose trust he needs to gain in order to obtain as much background information as possible.
As a result, when ex-convicts Richard Hickock
(Lee Pace) and Perry Smith
) are apprehended in Las Vegas
and extradited to Holcomb, permission is given to Capote to interview them in their cells. The two defendants are tried and found guilty, but a lengthy period of appeals
begins. Capote's society and literary friends in New York, like Slim Keith
and Babe Paley
, press him for juicy gossip about the case and inquire when they can expect to read the book.
Capote forms an attachment to Smith. He empathizes with the convicted killer's unhappy childhood, and Smith's remorseful manner, genuine sincerity, and obvious intelligence impress him. The criminal's reciprocal feelings become evident, although Smith has difficulty dealing with his emotions. As soon as Smith learns that Truman plans to title his book In Cold Blood, which suggests the author thinks of him only as a merciless killer, he violently subdues Capote and nearly rapes him.
Smith steadfastly refuses to describe the night of the murders. This greatly angers Capote, who wants to hear details not only as a writer in search of the truth but as someone who finds it difficult to believe a loved one could be guilty of such a crime. Smith eventually acquiesces and discusses what transpired.
Capote then finds himself entangled in a personal and professional dilemma. As much as he wants Smith to be sentenced to life in prison, a death by hanging would provide a far more sensational ending for readers of his book. He begins to unravel psychologically as the legal appeals drag on, unable to complete his book without an ending.
Years go by. Hickock and Smith finally exhaust all their options and now ask that Capote be present at their April 14, 1965 execution. He complies reluctantly with their request. Afterward, he learns Smith bequeathed his meager belongings to him, and among them he finds a charcoal sketch of him the killer had drawn.
The film's original title alternated between Have You Heard? and Every Word Is True.
The fictional singer portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow
was originally intended to be Peggy Lee
The situation of an audience being held spellbound by a performer falling silent in the middle of a song was based on a real-life nightclub
performance by Barbara Cook
According to writer and director Douglas McGrath, in his DVD commentary, many of the scenes in Infamous
occurred only in McGrath's imagination, most notably a dramatic sexual encounter between Capote and inmate Perry Smith
(played by Craig).
premiered at the August 2006 Venice Film Festival
. It differs from the earlier Capote
in that it occasionally breaks away from the Kansas setting to allow Capote's Manhattan
society friends and professional acquaintances to comment on and express opinions about him to an unseen interlocutor during mock interviews. It also is more explicit about the romantic feelings Capote and Perry Smith may have shared.
In his review in The New York Times
, A.O. Scott called the film "well worth your attention. It is quick-witted, stylish and well acted… warmer and more tender, if also a bit thinner and showier, than Capote
… it is in the end more touching than troubling."
of The New York Observer
opined, "They gave the Oscar to the wrong Truman Capote. I do not begrudge the versatile, popular Philip Seymour Hoffman his Oscar for playing the tiny terror in Capote
, but he was doing an impression. In Infamous
... a diminutive actor with a titanic talent named Toby Jones literally becomes the man himself. This is no lisping impersonation learned from watching old Johnny Carson
shows: Mr. Jones moves into Truman's skin, heart and brains. Infamous
shows you the man's soul. It is a monumental achievement of great artistry and depth. In some ways, the movie is better, too ... [it] is infinitely fascinating, cinematically breathtaking and largely impeccable. It proves that there's more than one way to tell a story and view a life. It is one hell of a beautiful movie to see and savor."
, David Rooney felt the film "doesn't measure up to its predecessor and seems unlikely to echo the attention it received ... In the central role, British thesp Toby Jones is a good physical match for Capote, getting his flamboyant mannerisms and creepy, nasal voice down. But unlike Philip Seymour Hoffman's Oscar-winning turn, there's no texture, no under-the-skin sense of the conflict between Capote's ambition for his book and his compassion for, and attraction to, Perry ... Sandra Bullock's understated performance as Capote's friend Lee is a high point here – wrapped in a cardigan and puffing on cigarettes, she creates a bracingly sturdy character of this plain-speaking, unfussy woman amid a cardboard gallery of flashy sophisticates."
of the San Francisco Chronicle
observed, "By the standards of most pictures, this is intelligent, thoughtful filmmaking ... it's only against the exalted benchmark standard set by Capote
falls short ... It's a worthy film in its own right, with its own virtues ... Either through studying Lee or channeling someone else, Bullock adopts mannerisms and facial expressions that are not her own for this role and then works them into a well-crafted portrait of a highly internal, observant and deep-revolving spirit. It's the performance to take from the movie."
In The Village Voice
, Robert Wilonsky stated the film "never comes close to approaching the quiet, devastating brilliance of Capote
... Which is not to say Infamous
... is a far inferior version ... it's just a lesser version, light in weight and absent the ache ... It's good, especially during its first half, just not good enough."
Steve Persall of the St. Petersburg Times
rated the film B and added, "Infamous
might have been viewed as one of this year's better films if Capote
hadn't told the same story about the same characters a year ago and done it so well ... Infamous
is inferior, although not drastically so, in almost every respect ... The most obvious comparisons are to be made about performances. Jones is a much more accurate physical representation of Capote than Hoffman, his high-pitched voice sounding a little more affected than his Oscar-winning predecessor. However, the relative shallowness of McGrath's screenplay doesn't offer as many emotional land mines for Jones to play. [He] delivers an uncanny impersonation, while Hoffman's portrayal was a studiously researched impression, a likely more challenging task. Call this race nearly a draw, with Hoffman simply crossing the finish line first."
In comparing this film to Capote
, David Thomson
of The Independent
asked, "What does it have that's different? ... [It] has a gallery of Truman Capote's Manhattan friends, people who adored him without ever quite trusting him ... These cameos give a tone-perfect sense of Capote's life before In Cold Blood
. He is placed as the phenomenon of culture, celebrity and outrage that he was."
The review aggregator
website Rotten Tomatoes
reported a 73% approval rating with an average rating of 6.7/10 based on 146 reviews. The website's consensus reads, " Though comparisons with last year's Capote
may be inevitable, Infamous
takes a different angle in its depiction of the author, and stands up well enough on its own."
, the film achieved an average score of 68 out of 100, based on 34 critics, signifying "generally favorable reviews".
- ^ "Infamous (2006) - Box Office Mojo".
- ^ Liebowitz, Ed (August 6, 2006). "Playing a Historical Figure, You Can Copy ... or Conquer". The New York Times.
- ^ "CBSi". FindArticles.com.
- ^ Infamous DVD commentary by Douglas McGrath
- ^ Scott, A.O. "Infamous - Movies - Review". The New York Times.
- ^ Reed, Rex (11 February 2016). "7 Tips for Landing the Best Job In America". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 18 May 2007.
- ^ Rooney, David. "Vera Cruz". Variety.
- ^ LaSalle, Mick Chronicle Movie Critic (13 October 2006). "'Infamous' takes another crack at uncovering Capote". San Francisco Chronicle.
- ^ "Review". The Village Voice.
- ^ "Weekend: A day late, a dollar short". St. Petersburg Times.
- ^ "Crosswords and Puzzles - The Independent". Independent. Archived from the original on 2006-07-10.
- ^ "Infamous (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
- ^ "Infamous Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 10, 2015.
Last edited on 28 March 2021, at 04:55
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