Like “Capote”, “Infamous” retraces the steps of author Truman Capote (played here by pint-sized Toby Jones) as he researches a very disconcerting murder case – one that would ultimately inspire his book, ‘In Cold Blood’.

Toby Jones, Sandra Bullock, Daniel Craig, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels

Ask any child with divorced parents, and they’ll tell you – There are two sides to every story. Sure, sometimes the stories may tread similar ground, but one may be more detailed than the other; possibly fix on one aspect in particular; or tweak the fact and fiction ratio considerably. The same can be said for the second film about Truman Capote in a year – it essentially tells the same story as the other, only differently, with a different tone to the other and with more emphasis on just how loopy Capote was.

Like “Capote”, “Infamous” retraces the steps of author Truman Capote (played here by pint-sized Toby Jones) as he researches a very disconcerting murder case – one that would ultimately inspire his book, ‘In Cold Blood’.

Accompanied by lifelong friend and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Nelle Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock), Capote heads to Kansas to suss out the story behind the Clutter family killings.
A darling of New York City’s post war café society, Truman’s effeminate persona, unashamedly flashy dress and unusual, high-pitched voice is the object of alarm and derision among the residents of the rural farming community where the murders took place. But his charm eventually wins over the townsfolk, including Alvin Dewey (Jeff Daniels), the moralistic detective in charge of the case, with whom Truman forms an unlikely friendship.
But the killers, Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) and Dick Hickock (Lee Pace), are caught, put on trial and sentenced to death. Truman had set out to create “a psychological study of a village and how that place is affected by a vicious crime,” but by the time he left, he had developed an intense emotional relationship with Perry that would deepen over the next five years despite court appeals, agonizing execution stays and miles of separation.
Whilst “Capote” was more a one-man show (not discrediting the performances of Catherine Keener or Chris Cooper, but lets face it, Philip Seymour Hoffman stole the show), “Infamous” is more of an ensemble effort – with no one, not even Jones, singled out as being any more magnificent in his turn than another. In fact, Sandra Bullock; Sigourney Weaver; Hope Davis; Isabella Rosselini; and Daniel Craig are all rather superb. Not to say Jones’s turn as Capote isn’t good – it’s very good, he looks the part; sounds the part and acts the part – it’s just that he’s in just as good company.

Oh, and, well, maybe he has been let down by the script a bit…

The problem with “Infamous” is that writer/director Douglas McGrath seems a bit unsure what he’s going for here – comedy? Drama? Thriller? Romance? Unnerving psychological expose? It’s a little bit of all those, and for the common viewer, it’ll be a strange blend that’ll sit about as well as a large glass of full-cream milk – OK to begin with, but after a while, a bit much. It also gets a little strange in spots…. Sometimes fooling the audience into thinking they’re watching a Biography channel special on a famed serial killer (with Capote as the subject).

Much like the competing Wyatt Earp movies from a couple of years back (“Tombstone” and “Wyatt Earp”) or the giant asteroid blockbusters in direct competition a while back (“Deep Impact” and “Armageddon”), neither “Capote” or “Infamous” are any better than one another – except, well, for the face that “Capote” has done a bit better at the box office, and bought its star some accolades – it’ll simply be a matter of taste. For me, I found the more straight-forward narrative of “Capote”, and Hoffman’s performance, a tad more mesmerising. You might not.

Commentary and a traier make up the bulk of the thin extras component of the disc.

Rating :
Reviewer : Clint Morris

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole. Loves David Lynch, David Fincher... actually, any filmmaker by the name of David.