Earlier in the year, I happened upon a movie website and came across a list of titles which were coming out in the next few months. When I saw the title of "Infamous," I clicked on the link not having a clue about what the film was about, and when I did read the plot summery I was extremely shocked. I had a spell of deja vu, because the film was exactly like one that I recently saw, "Capote." That being said, I believe that it is probably impossible to write a review for "Infamous" without a slight mention of the 2005 film "Capote." Not only are the two films about the same man, but they also follow the exact same storyline. The major difference, however, is the tone. "Capote" was a bleak and depressing take on the writer. A dark trip into the mind of an already dark man. "Infamous" takes the story on a different approach, a much more comical one, and one that is even slightly more entertaining, but not fully human.
"Infamous" introduces us to Truman Capote as the cream of the crop in the social world. He knows everything about everybody and everybody knows who he is. And everybody also knows to never trust him with any kind of secret, because he will spread it to everyone under the sun. As a writer, he has gained strong acclaim, and has figured out exactly what he wants to write about next. In the newspaper one morning he comes across an article about the death of the Clutter family. A family of four, the Clutters were found brutally murdered in their homes one morning, in Holcrom, Kansas. With his best friend since childhood, Harper Lee, Capote sets his sights for the city in Kansas to get to the bottom of the case, and begin his article. In the guise of an old woman, Capote leaves his mark on the townspeople, who have no interest in opening up to him, especially Alvin Dewey, the detective leading the case. The people in the town change their minds when Capote tells them stories about the stars he knew, and suddenly everybody wants to talk. The killers are eventually caught, Dick Hickock and Perry Smith. Capote does everything he can to interview the two killers, so that he can portray them in a light other than cold blooded murderers. Once he starts to talk to them, especially Perry, he decides that this story will not fit an article in a newspaper, it would have to be an entire book-which he named "In Cold Blood." Neglecting to tell Perry about the title, as not to offend him, Capote begins a kind of relationship with the killer, and comes to a crossroads. If Perry and Dick do not die, Capote will not have a proper ending for his novel, but if they do die, Capote might loose the only man that he could ever truly relate to, and even love.
'Infamous" and "Capote" were both made at the same time, so I refuse to give the classic argument that this is a cheap Hollywood ripoff of the first film. It really is not too bad at all. It views the story told in "Capote" in a different way, but that doesn't make it poor. At times it could seem a little silly. I'll admit, the sequence with Capote dressed up like a woman walking through the town was a little strange, but this could have been who he actually way. Toby Jones and Phillip Seymour Hoffman take different stabs at the role. Jones is more openly gay about Capote, while Hoffman appeared to keep it in. Jones even looks a little more like the author, and some people might even think that Truman Capote was playing himself. And here we also get an intimate look into Capote's social life, which was extremely vast and complete. We get to chart the downfall of the man. "In Cold Blood" ended up destroying Truman Capote. He pours himself into the novel, and it slowly eats his away. Capote is the ultimate example of character development, as he goes from this fun and entertaining man to this poor soul, who wanders life confused and alone."In Cold Blood" ended up being the last book that he finished before he died, even though he attempted to write another. He is also very selfish, and always has to come out as number one in his inner circle. His popularity is even threatened when Lee publishes her little novel "To Kill a Mockingbird," which garnered almost more success than all of Truman's work combined. Like Lee says, "Truman would be happy if I received the Pulitzer Prize, as long as he had two of them first."
My biggest quip with the film was the filler use of "talking heads." From time to time, especially in the beginning and in the end, the film would take a History Channel approach, and make the film seem like a docu-drama. While still in character, people like Harper Lee and Slim Keith would talk to the camera and tell stories about Capote, and discuss certain incidents in his life. I saw these as road blocks in the middle of the action, and their absence in the middle made it appear inconsistent. With that, "Infamous" is much more entertaining than it's counterpart, but it doesn't have the depth of the first film. I enjoyed watching both of them, though, and they both brought their own little spin to the tale. "Infamous" seems to be a box office bomb, which is a shame because everyone is writing this off simply because "Capote" came out last year. They should give this a chance, as they might be strongly surprised by how good and fun it is. "Infamous" is not a retread. It's the same story, and yet it still feels as if it is something new, and I hope people give it the chance that it deserves. The chance that all films deserve.