Bennett Miller's penetrating feature about Truman Capote (played superbly by an Oscar-winning Hoffman) covers perhaps the most pivotal part of the celebrity writer's life. In 1959, Capote decided to get away from fluffy fiction and write a hard, tell-all piece about a then-recent crime: the grisly, senseless butchering of a Kansas farming family by two loners, Perry Smith (Collins Jr.) and Dick Hickock (Pellegrino). The resulting book, "In Cold Blood," would break new ground in non-fiction literature — but the experience would also exact a heavy toll on its author due to encroaching inner demons, and Capote's unusually charged relationship with Smith.
Hoffman's uncanny portrayal of brilliant misfit Capote is reason enough to see this vivid, unnerving film, but the focus on his writing of "Blood" lets us peer into the tortured psyche of a man who always felt alone and set apart, with only his words to win him acknowledgment. Though Truman bonds with Smith as a fellow outcast (with homoerotic undertones also evident), he also misleads and manipulates the convict to achieve his own literary ends. Collins scores as a downright spooky Smith, and Oscar-nominated Catherine Keener does a nicely measured turn as Capote's childhood friend, author Harper Lee. A layered, complex piece about a tragic event, and the profoundly disillusioned man who used it to create his last, most enduring work.