Thursday, January 25, 2007


Wow, wow, wow! I treated myself to 'Infamous' this afternoon, and left the cinema completely awestruck.

It's hard to discuss this film without drawing comparisons with the equally superb 'Capote', starring Philip Seymour Hoffman. I enjoyed that one thoroughly, but left feeling a bit cheated because although it had the same name as the biography by Gerald Clarke, it essentially only focused on the 'In Cold Blood' period in Capote's life.

'Infamous' is similarly about the same period, however they did present a much broader picture of Capote's life, somewhat helped in a cheeky way via George Plimtonesque anecdotes from the various people who knew him. I'm not sure if these 'to camera' scenes work, but I suppose it was a way of relaying information about his character and life, that would have taken a lot longer than two hours if it had been done, say, via flashbacks.

A lot of the publicity for this film featured 'The Swans', Capote's inner circle of beautiful wealthy society friends like Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver), Slim Keith (Hope Davis), Marella Agnelli (Isabella Rossellini) and Diana Vreeland (Juliet Stevenson). Despite the big names who play them, the swans are by no means what is so special about this film. Though they do add a bit of gloss and glamour, and act to reveal the gossipy, bitchy, name-dropping side of Capote.

The real stars are Toby Jones who doesn't just do a good rendition of Capote, but IS Capote, Sandra Bullock as the much less glamorous Pulitzer-winning authoress and best friend Nelle Harper Lee, and Daniel Craig as Perry Smith, one of the murderers.

Sandra Bullock was a real surprise, because I thought she was a bit of a Julia Roberts - you know the kind of funny, attractive, goofy actress that plays slight and safe variations of herself. But in the case of Bullock I think she just needed the right gritty role to come along, and in this film she is just amazing. Then there's Daniel Craig - I was mesmerized by his portrayal of the enigmatic and tortured soul that was Perry Smith. And the chemistry between him and Toby Jones was electric.

The supporting cast are equally commendable, with a wonderfully nuanced and sympathetic portrayel of Alvin Dewey by Jeff Daniels, and a sharp, amusing Diana Vreeland is played brilliantly by Juliet Stevenson.

I read Capote's biography, 'Capote' by Gerald Clarke, last year, and I think this film captures that period in his life very well. If you are a fan, I highly recommend this book, as the author conducted hours of interviews over the years, not only with people who knew him intimately, but with Capote himself. As for the film - go and see it.

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