Infamous Douglas McGrath

Not since the Tombstone/Wyatt Earp debacle of ’94 has there been more questioning over the timing of two films vying to tell one story. Back then Kevin Costner made it a mud-slinging sissy fight but oddly enough, the two onscreen representations of Truman Capote hardly raised the stink that the western lawman did (which seems a little backwards considering the two men being depicted). The timing for Infamous couldn’t have been any worse upon its release, hitting theatres a year after Bennett Miller’s Capote and, most damagingly, months after Phillip Seymour Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the title character. But despite its overwhelming narrative similarities, McGrath’s film (based on George Plimpton’s book) is valiant enough to stand on its own as a worthy account of the heralded author/gaudy Manhattan socialite’s investigative study into the murder of a rural family in Kansas. Toby Jones is Capote, and by that I mean he simply is the man; Hoffman may have portrayed him immaculately but Jones is Capote incarnate. The mannerisms and flamboyance, including a naturally ostentatious accent (which Gore Vidal describes as the "sound of a Brussels sprout talking”), are all so real, but Jones’s winning attribute is his extraordinary resemblance, which is uncanny. Following the near-exact plot as Capote, the script tells of his deep involvement with the killers as he writes his fictional account of their crime. Daniel Craig continually proves his worth as the object of Capote’s desire, Perry, the complex, soft-spoken criminal. The two melt the screen with a sexual chemistry so magical 007 would be wise to take notes. Unfortunately for Infamous, it is destined to live out its life in the shadows of Capote. Of course, with two films so alike, coming in second subsequently strips it of its original merit. And though it plays up the entertainingly carousing side of his life, Infamous lacks the intensity of Capote’s storytelling. McGrath’s commentary is the only extra, and his style is to include every little thought on his mind, which makes for an exhausting but nonetheless absorbing break down of the entire film. (Warner)