"Capote"--about Truman Capote's five-year quest to write a book on the killing of a Kansas family, the friendship he develops with one of the killers, and the consequences of that friendship--is terrific, and light-years beyond what I would have imagined director Bennett Miller was capable of. His previous feature "The Cruise" was a documentary about an eccentric New York tour guide, and other than the fact that both films train a largely unwavering eye on two loquacious urbanites--one openly gay, one not so open (the tour guide in "The Cruise" maintains that he's straight)--it's hard to believe they were the product of a single filmmaker.
The subject and glory of the film, of course, is Philip Seymour Hoffman's Capote. He gets most of the mannerisms down pat--the baby whisper, the fluttering hands--and even manages to make himself look smaller than his usual bulky self, but that's just the basics of the performance; beyond the nuts and bolts, he builds a portrait of a man who'll do anything--charm, bribe, lie, even tell uncomfortable truths about himself--to get the information he needs to write the book that will guarantee him literary immortality. This interpretation of Capote owes much to Dan Futterman's screenplay, I think (based on the biography by Gerald Clarke), and Hoffman runs with it--no mean feat, considering that much of the details are suggested rather than stated, and conveyed by the sequence of events rather than semaphored via one character's privileged speech, the way they are in most biopics.