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capoteIt is often said that great art comes from adversity. The commentary track on the new DVD of Capote hints that, in fact, the old adage may be true. Director Bennett Miller and star Phillip Seymour Hoffman suggest that their relationship on set in Winnipeg may have been less than amicable. Perhaps it was that tension that drove Phillip Seymour Hoffman to give the best performance of his career as the prickly writer Truman Capote.

The film chronicles the six years Capote put in doing research for In Cold Blood, a true-crime book about the murder of a Kansas family. It also elaborates on the long-whispered rumours about his relationship with one of the killers, Perry Smith.

Hoffman is letter perfect as the writer, who to many people is best-known as a frequent guest on daytime talk shows in the 70s, and for his high squeaky voice. Capote captures the character before his life fell apart in a miasma of drugs and alcohol, and before he became a self-parody. Hoffman’s performance could easily have fallen into mimicry but is instead a well-hewn portrait of a complicated and troubled man.

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