Capote (film)

Capote is a 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote directed by Bennett Miller. It follows the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. Philip Seymour Hoffman won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Actor, for his critically acclaimed portrayal of the title character. The film was based on Gerald Clarke's biography Capote. It was filmed mostly in Manitoba[3] in the autumn of 2004. It was released September 30, 2005, to coincide with Truman Capote's birthday.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byBennett Miller
Produced by
Screenplay byDan Futterman
Based onCapote
by Gerald Clarke
Music byMychael Danna
CinematographyAdam Kimmel
Edited byChristopher Tellefsen
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • September 2, 2005 (2005-09-02) (Telluride)
  • September 30, 2005 (2005-09-30) (United States)
  • October 28, 2005 (2005-10-28) (Canada)
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million[2]
Box office$50 million[2]


In 1959, the four dead bodies of the Clutter family are discovered on their Kansas farm. While reading The New York Times, Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is riveted by the story and calls The New Yorker magazine editor William Shawn (Bob Balaban) to tell him that he plans to document the tragedy.

Capote travels to Kansas, inviting childhood friend Nelle Harper Lee (Catherine Keener) to come along. He intends to interview those involved with the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and facilitator. Alvin Dewey (Chris Cooper), the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, brushes him off, but Dewey's wife Marie (Amy Ryan) is a fan of Capote's writing and persuades her husband to invite Capote and Lee to their house for dinner.

Capote's stories of movie sets and film stars captivate Marie. Over time, her husband warms to Capote and allows him to view the photographs of the victims. The Deweys, Lee, and Capote are having dinner when the murder suspects, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.) and Richard "Dick" Hickock (Mark Pellegrino), are caught. Flattery, bribery, and a keen insight into the human condition facilitate Capote's visits to the prison where the accused are held.

Capote begins to form an attachment to Smith. He informs Shawn of his intent to expand the story into a full-length book. Following the trial and conviction, Capote gains continued access to the murderers by bribing Warden Marshall Krutch (Marshall Bell).

Capote spends the following years regularly visiting Smith and learning about his life, excepting a year-long stint when he goes to Morocco and Spain to write the "first three parts" of the book, accompanied by his romantic partner Jack Dunphy (Bruce Greenwood).

The story of Smith's life, his remorseful manner, and his emotional sincerity impress Capote, who becomes emotionally attached to him despite the gruesome murders. Capote aids Smith and Hickock by obtaining expert legal counsel for them and initiating an appeal. Still he is frustrated, as Smith declines to relate exactly what happened on the night of the murders.

Though initially an effort to provide proper representation and extend Capote's opportunity to speak with the killers, the appeals process drags on for several years. Without the court case being resolved, Capote feels he is stuck with a story without an ending, and he is unable to complete his book. Eventually he gets Smith to describe the killings and his thoughts at the time in great detail. He has what he wants from Smith, but in the process he sees a callousness and selfishness in his own actions.

Now with everything in hand, Capote still must wait for the appeals process to conclude before he feels he can publish his work. In the course of time, Lee's best-selling novel To Kill a Mockingbird is turned into a movie, but Capote is unable to share in the joy of his friend's success, too caught up in drinking through his own misery.

With the last appeal rejected, Smith pleads for Capote to return before he is executed, but Capote cannot bring himself to do so. A telegram from Smith to Harper Lee ultimately compels Capote to return to Kansas. There he is an eyewitness as Smith and Hickock are executed.

Capote talks to Lee about the horrifying experience and laments that he could not do anything to stop it. She replies, "Maybe not. The fact is you didn't want to." The final scenes show Capote looking through photos from the case and at the writings and drawings given to him by Smith. An epilogue points out that In Cold Blood turned Capote into the most famous writer in America, also noting that he never finished another book. A postscript to the film gives the epigraph he would have chosen for the title of Answered Prayers: "More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones",[4] a quote from Saint Teresa of Ávila.[5]



Box office

Capote grossed $28.8 million in the United States and Canada and $21.2 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $50 million, sales of its DVD/Blu-ray releases have cashed $17 million, against a production budget of $7 million.[2]

Critical response

Capote received wide acclaim from critics, with Hoffman's performance the subject of particular praise. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 90% of critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 8.17/10 based on 193 reviews. The site's consensus reads: "Philip Seymour Hoffman's riveting central performance guides a well-constructed retelling of the most sensational and significant period in author Truman Capote's life."[6] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 88 out of 100 based on 40 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[7] Roger Ebert gave the film a full four-star rating, stating: "Capote is a film of uncommon strength and insight, about a man whose great achievement requires the surrender of his self-respect."[8]


Wins for Philip Seymour Hoffman

Critics' awards


Home media

Capote was released on VHS (as a public screener only) and DVD on March 14, 2006.[2]

See also


  1. "Capote". London, England: British Film Institute. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
  2. "Capote (2005)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
  3. Capote (2005) – Filming locations
  4. Shelley, Peter (2017). Philip Seymour Hoffman. The Life and Work. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-476-66243-5. ISBN 1-47666243-6.
  5. Ahern, Rosemary, ed. (2012). The Art of the Epigraph. How Great Books Begin. New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-451-69327-0. ISBN 1-45169327-3.
  6. "Capote (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved August 7, 2019.
  7. "Capote Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 5, 2017.
  8. Ebert, Roger. "Capote". Retrieved August 20, 2015.
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