Quick Review of Infamous

October 13, 2006

Infamous is another telling of how celebrated author Truman Capote came to write "In Cold Blood"; this was made at the same time as Capote, but released a year later. Infamous starts off with an odd but lively scene with Gwyneth Paltrow singing in a nightclub - her one-scene cameo appearance gets the film off and moving. This take on the murder investigation and Capote's night life isn't perfect or subtle, but Toby Jones' great performance as Capote is a remarkable feat. The film is playful and funny, as well as dark and unsettling. The use of onscreen character interviews doesn't work; it's useful to pile on exposition but they temporarily halt the narrative flow.

Sandra Bullock is miscast in a pivotal role, the same one Catherine Keener was Oscar-nominated for in Capote. Hope Davis and Sigourney Weaver add warmth to their supporting turns as Capote's socialite "swans," unlike Isabella Rossellini, in a part so minor she barely appears in the film. Jeff Daniels is also especially appealing as an unlikely ally of Capote. Daniel Craig makes a stunning transformation as killer Perry Smith and his scenes with Jones are compelling. The tone changes from frothy comedy to stark chilliness and yet it somehow works, mostly because Jones' take on Capote grows from cartoonishly flamboyant to complex and endearing. His performance grew on me and the film, while flawed, is more entertaining and affecting than you'd expect.

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