I could just sing the praises of Capote as a wonderfully made film with performances that take the respective performers to a new level but dharma is there, as promised. As the title suggests, the film is about Truman Capote and the struggle that he faced in writing his novel, In Cold Blood. What is fascinating and what rings so brilliantly in Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s performance is the question of intention.
In the course of the film, Capote confesses to his friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), that he is writing his novel to “rescue the humanity” of the two young men who sit on death row, convicted of killing an innocent family in cold blood. It becomes apparent though that Capote’s true motivation is more likely the salvation of his own humanity. Caught in the paradox of needing to have two men executed in order to have his “humanity saving” venture succeed, tragedy ensues. When I look to see the dharma in the film, I ask myself, why did Truman Capote write the book? Was he honest with anyone whom he met? Was he honest with himself, even in his most personal moments? Thanks to a wonderful film, none of these questions are fully answered but they are asked in a most satisfying way.