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Infamous

15 Oct

Infamous — directed by Douglas McGrath — bio-drama about Truman Capote, Harper Lee, and their approach to the Sutter murders which produced his best seller In Cold Blood. 118 minutes color 2006

* * * *

Well, it’s badly written, directed, filmed. The sets and costumes are suited to a Betty Grable musical. And it’s hard to like Truman Capote. One can admire him, for his strength and pertinacity, but his books are unreadable now and his position as the dwarf/jester of cafe society is gone. But during Gwyneth Paltrow’s perfect rendition of “What Is This Thing Called Love?”when she breaks down — you see Capote rooting for her. Odd. Capote rooted for no one but himself. Capote banked everything on vindictive survival. And it’s understandable, because he fell into no expected human category– until he found, after In Cold Blood, that survival itself wasn’t worth it. But that’s not the story told here. Toby Jones as Capote is trapped by the physical distortion he adopts, save once, in front of a mirror when he realizes the irony that he loves and is loved by someone he can never be with. Mark Wahlberg was to play that part, Perry Smith, and would have been better than Daniel Craig, who has only half of the character to offer, Perry’s violence; the other half, Perry’s artistic soul, is given Craig by dialogue but he cannot embody it. But Craig performs everything with complete conviction and simplicity, all praise to him. The great Lee Pace is Dick Hickock, the nasty psychopath provoker of the slaughter. Sandra Bullock is tops as Harper Lee, shrewdly achieving her effect by rarely looking at the camera, in the actual meditation of a modest woman. Juliet Stevenson is way out of line as Diana Vreeland. High Society people are not hoity toity, only people who imitate them are that. Sigourney Weaver is miscast as Babe Paley, it should have been played by an elegant woman, which Weaver is not: Jill Clayburg, Blythe Danner. But the story gives me room to ponder the ways of nature. I recommend the piece because it held me, and because the director, although not very bright, has given us a simple draft of the Capote romance with slaughter and slaughterers, and because of Lee Pace, the instrument of it, amazing in his few scenes. The film itself accomplished what it set out to do. Despite its shortcomings — an honest job about a dishonest person.

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