Monday, October 13, 2008

'Infamous' (2006) - Complexity in Truman Capote ... and Elsewhere

Sitting round a Saturday evening post-dinner party table with more bottles of red still to consume seems to be a good venue to sort out reactions to a controversial film, play, whatever.

So the subject was 'Infamous', the recent other film about Truman Capote's development of the ideas and the form for his novel 'In Cold Blood' - a 'reportage' (or fictional reporting) of the events in Kansas surrounding the murder of the four members of the Clutter family by Dick Hickock and Perry Smith.

Dick Hickock and Perry Smith

And debate round the room was crystallizing into a discussion of whether or not the author had simply used the two men to generate material for his project or was genuinely empathetic with them ... on some level. And in particular, whether or not he was imagining the potentiality, in other circumstances, of some kind of real and reciprocated relationship with Perry, and this was in fact driving his interest.

The Avedon photos of Truman Capote and Perry Smith

This 'either or' approach to me seemed to miss the point entirely - and mask the psychological complexity in Capote ... and people in general.

It seems most likely that the author was developing an attachment to Perry AND that he was delighted by the great novel that was emerging from these circumstances AND that he was more than pleased to have a source of such delicious tit bits for the delectation of his New York 'swans' or women society friends.

People are complex and contain such seeming contradictions - here I am not talking about what life should be but what it is.

Truman Capote by Robert Mapplethorpe (1981)

In 'Infamous', writer and director Douglas McGrath intelligently and with real psychological truth explores this complex (and daring!) proposition.

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