Friday, November 18, 2005

"More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."

Due to popular demand, here is another movie review for you...

Today, I caught a matinee of Capote, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. For those unfamiliar with the movie, the story is that of Truman Capote as he researches and writes his true crime masterpiece, In Cold Blood. I think that this is one of the best character study films I've ever seen, if not one of my favorite movies overall.

Hoffman's performance was sublime. During the screening, I completely lost any previous role he has played. Every posture, every gesture, every pause, every line, was perfectly crafted. Hoffman's Capote was entirely egocentric and arrogant, but definitely human. For most of the film, he is completely remorseless about how he manipulates both people and events. What I found remarkable was that he truly did not care if Perry Smith, the convicted murderer, was guilty or innocent. The only thing that mattered was his book, which he claimed would be "the nonfiction book of the decade." Capote was aloof to everyone and everything around him.

Perhaps the most telling scene is after Capote gives a reading from his book. Capote and others are celebrating backstage when a member of the audience stands in the doorway, awestruck, and tells Capote that his descriptions of the murderers was truly horrifying. Capote thanks him and continues the celebration, ignoring how obviously disturbed this person was by the book. After the guy leaves, Capote calls out for him to come back. He wants to hear more praise of how moving his book is.

Capote's egocentrism is complete until he realizes that these are people's lives and Smith will be executed. Capote wants to be perceived as good and insists that he did everything he could do to help them. His grief is sincere, but too little, too late.

While the movie is not perfect (I would have liked to see more of the initial interaction between Capote and Smith before Capote leaves Kansas), it was extraordinary. Many movies with an obvious lead acting Oscar contender sometimes suffer because of a lack of balance. One example would be Philadelphia. Tom Hanks was great, which made the rest of the cast seem that much worse. Capote does not suffer from that problem. Clifton Collins, Jr., playing the role of Smith, was mesmerizing. Chris Cooper, Catherine Keener, Bob Balaban, and Bruce Greenwood were all very good.

My previous favorite for best actor this year was David Strathairn in Good Night, and Good Luck. He has been quite readily replaced. I cannot see how Hoffman cannot win for this superb performance. In case you were wondering, the quote used as the title of this post was Capote's inscription on his last unfinished novel.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Jessie said...

Nice review. I saw the film last night and thought it was very good - I'm still puzzling over the contradictions in Capote's character. The quote is taken from St Teresa of Avila.

At 12:14 PM, Blogger karen said...

Good review! Also saw the film last night; also mesmerised by Hoffman's performance. Like the way you write.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous juliana mendoza said...

I was just searching for the Qoute, and found your was great to read it after watching the movie last night. Very accurrate and moving.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger my own bad self said...

I was just searching for the exact wording of the quote, too. I just watched this movie, i think its one of the most powerful films ive seen, and really reflects on the weakness and vulnerability of the human race. I loved how it presented sides of a controversy and its characters in a way that led you to see things in a new light. I feel that it scrutinizes the very essence of the human ego and confliction, revealing (to me at least) that every side of every point of view has its strong points and weaknesses, and every side of culture has a sickness in its own way. Its a brilliant film, and you wrote a good review.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Jenny said...

I was also searching for the quote like the other lady up there and found your review. I saw the movie last night and thought it was very good. Especially the way the quote appeared at the end.

At 6:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."
This is a great line. It was beginning of the movie.
Anyone know, who wrote this line?

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's in the front of Capote's book "Answered prayers" and it's from St Teresa of Avila.


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