INFAMOUS (Douglas McGrath). 110 minutes. Opens Friday (October 13). For venues and times, see Movies, page 105. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Talk about lousy timing. Infamous, Douglas McGrath 's fine new film about Truman Capote, is getting released exactly a year after the Oscar-winning Capote.
If that's not bad enough, the film covers the same time period -- namely, the years-long work on Capote's non-fiction masterpiece, In Cold Blood, about a murder trial in Kansas, that would both ensure his immortality and cripple him for writing anything better later on.
In some ways I prefer this version, which is a lot less self-consciously arty and sober. Writer/director McGrath, working from George Plimpton 's book, borrows a bit from Fred Schepesi's Six Degrees Of Separation to deliver exposition through brief but colourful gossip sessions.
Not only does this open up Capote's social world more, but it's a fitting way to deal with a creature who essentially bartered his way through life by trading in juicy tales.
Unfortunately, McGrath also relies on the hackneyed "interview" device to get Capote's friends and colleagues -- everyone from Diana Vreeland (a hilarious Juliet Stevenson ) to Babe Paley ( Sigourney Weaver ) -- to talk about him. Most effective is the Harper Lee of Sandra Bullock , who continues her series of understated performances as if to make up for all the fun she gave us in Miss Congeniality.
It was bold to cast two Brits in the leads. Daniel Craig , next month's James Bond, is electric as murderer Perry Smith, and you can feel the chemistry between him and Capote ( Toby Jones ). Note: McGrath doesn't seem as afraid of Capote's sex life as Bennett Miller was.
Jones, for his part, delivers a far more convincing impression of the real Capote than Philip Seymour Hoffman. He really is elfin and fey, no wardrobe tricks required.
But he doesn't command the screen in the same way. I'm afraid the early bird caught the Oscar.