What’s Philip Seymour Hoffman have that I don’t? (An Oscar for this performance)

Golden Mug

NOMINEE: Supporting Actor (Daniel Craig)

Theatrical Release Date: 10/13/2006
Director: Douglas McGrath
Cast: Toby Jones, Daniel Craig, Sandra Bullock, Sigourney Weaver, Hope Davis

Did you see 2005’s “Capote”? If so, you may be wondering why you should see “Infamous”.

This film also tells the story of Truman Capote and his struggle to write the celebrated novel, “In Cold Blood”.

For those unfamiliar with the book or last year’s film version of the events, the story revolved around eccentric author Truman Capote as he attempts to learn all that he can about the killing of a Kansas family in their home in the late 1950s.

Capote, a well-known gossip and socialite, goes so far as to get into the cells with the killers to ascertain their side of the story (and in the process develops a complex relationship with them).

He wasn’t interested so much in the facts of the crime but in providing a look at what such a heinous act does to a close-knit community such as that of Holcombe, Kansas.

In lieu of Philip Seymour Hoffman (who won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Capote), filmmakers went with Toby Jones to slip his toes into Truman’s loafers.

Not knowing much about the real Capote, I can only say that both actors provided excellent and believable performances. Still, I prefer Hoffman’s take on the whole ordeal. That is probably biased due to my admiration for him as an actor but that’s how it goes.

To portray one of the killers, Perry Smith, filmmakers eventually went with the newest 007, Daniel Craig. I say eventually because originally the role was going to go to Mark Wahlberg and then to Mark Ruffalo.

This is definitely an example of getting it right in the end. Craig has a lot of acting talent and it shows here, in a role that demands not only an intimidating presence but a lonely soul. I can only hope that he doesn’t get pigeon holed as the famous super spy.

While those are good performances (and there are other others), there are also some not so good ones. Originally Samantha Morton was cast as author Nelle Harper Lee. That probably would have been amazing.

What we actually got was Sandra Bullock. I like her in romantic comedies and speeding public transport films but this was out of her league. All I could think throughout her scenes was that I like her with longer hair.

There is also a small cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow in the beginning as singer Peggy Lee. In the middle of singing the opening song, she breaks down because the lyrics seem to mirror some personal pain inside of her. While I suppose those lyrics could be inferred to apply to Capote’s own journey, I thought the performance just served to have the audience wondering why in the hell Paltrow was the one they chose and why they used the scene at all.

In any case, “Infamous” slants its view more into the vivacious nature of Truman that “Capote” did. For that, I can at least be glad the whole film wasn’t just a rehash of something that was already made.

Still, unless you are a fanatic Truman Capote fan or are overcome with curiosity about what they did differently in this film, you don’t need to see this one.

I’m giving “Infamous” a 3 out of 5. On its own, it’s a good film. Having seen “Capote”, I don’t really need it.