Divisiveness was always going to rear its disfigured head as soon as Infamous started to make the rounds a year after Philip Seymour Hoffman lifted his Oscar for Best Actor in recognition of an exceedingly swollen and mannered performance as Truman Capote in Capote. Both films centre on similar events, similar scenes and similar contrivances that led to Capotes celebrated non-fiction novel, In Cold Blood. Set in the late '50s to mid-'60s, this very crucial period in Capotes life has been postulated as a milestone that marked the rest of his life as a tortured artist.
If Hoffmans Capote is observed upon as a study on precise technique, then Toby Joness naturally impish, and lively performance of the man succinctly captures the disparate essences of both films. Capote being the dourer, intellectually stimulating sibling while Infamous fleets by initially with warmth and ultimately anchors itself with a frank consideration for Capotes emotional capacities and hidden vulnerabilities. Douglas McGraths Infamous explores the Faustian tones existing in Capotes final bargain in trading his soul for his greatest opus with a certain sense of gallantry missing from Capote by emphasising the despair of soulnessness rather than just leading up to what initiates its disintegration.
And as the comparisons keep on rolling, the tonally confident Capote does include a showy bravura of supporting performances, notably from Catherine Keeners Harper Lee. Her counterpart, Sandra Bullock adds another layer to Capotes confidante by painting her with solemn weariness, a tortured writer and on a more understated level, as her closest friends keeper and peer. Daniel Craigs pre-Bond foray as the convicted murderer, Perry Smith incorporates further complexities into his poetic brute and the unlikely attachment that grows between Capote and himself. As far as fictionalised novelisation goes, Capote reserves a great deal more liberties than Infamous posits in the quiet moments between conflicted writer and the dead man walking. It all but spells out the sexual dynamics at the heart of Smiths tenderly vicious brawny presence in the tiny jail cell recounting his experiences with the diminutive and enthralled Capote.
While both films succeed on the levels it sets out to be and both possessing rarely seen strengths, Infamous achieves something in its intrinsic sadness that Capote did not comprehend in its brooding, achingly devastating mood piece. This one builds a fuller, more personable hypothesis of Truman Capote, highlighting his flaws and weaknesses suggesting a greater significance on the person rather than on the circumstances surrounding him.