Capote is an Academy Award-winning 2005 biographical film about Truman Capote (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal) on a writing assignment for The New Yorker. The film follows the events during the writing of Capote's non-fiction book In Cold Blood. The movie itself was based on the biography called Capote by Gerald Clarke. The movie was filmed mostly in Manitoba, in the autumn of 2004, and was released on 30 September 2005, to coincide with Truman Capote's 81st birthday.
The movie opens in Kansas with the discovery of the dead bodies of four of the members of the Clutter family by a family friend. While reading the Times, Truman Capote is riveted by the story of the Clutters and calls William Shawn, then the editor of The New Yorker, to announce that he will personally document the tragedy.
He travels to Kansas with his childhood friend Harper Lee. Lee was then in the process of getting To Kill a Mockingbird written and published, which the film references several times. Capote sets about interviewing those involved with the victims, the Clutter family, with Lee as his go-between and interpreter of rural life. When the murderers are apprehended, Capote is intitially brushed off by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation's lead detective on the case, Alvin Dewey. Dewey's wife, however, is a fan of Capote's writing and persuades him to invite Capote and Lee to their house for dinner. Mrs. Dewey is starstruck by Capote's stories of being on movie sets with film stars. Dewey warms up to Capote, which facilitates Capote's visits to the prison where the suspects (Perry Smith and Dick Hickock) are being held. Capote begins to form an attachment to Perry. Following their trial and conviction, Capote is able to gain access to the murderers by bribing the warden. Capote spends the following years regularly visiting Perry and learning about his life. The story of Perry's life, his upset and remorseful manner, and his emotional sincerity impress Capote. The writer becomes emotionally attached to Perry and feels sympathy for him, notwithstanding his involvement in the murders. Perry refuses to tell Capote what happened on the night of the murders, which greatly angers the writer. Eventually, Perry tells him in great detail. The story becomes a meditation upon the need for redemption even in very grave circumstances.
The last appeal is rejected and Perry and his partner are hanged. Perry's hanging is explicitly shown.
The movie showcases Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of the openly gay southern author with his weaknesses for fame, alcohol, and attention. Capote became an international figure upon the release of the book In Cold Blood, which he would publish after Smith and Hickock were executed. Hoffman portrays Capote's conflict between personal literary ambitions and trying to maintain his role as a confidant to Perry, one of the two condemned killers.
Scenes concerning The New Yorker and its editor William Shawn have been fictionalized; Shawn did not arrange for Capote to give a reading, travel with Capote to Kansas, or send a photographer there (The New Yorker didn't even publish photographs until after Shawn's departure in 1987).
In the film Capote is shown wearing his watch on his left wrist when, in fact, it was always his habit to wear it on his right wrist.