Infamous tackles one of those true stories that gives credence to the phrase ďtruth is stranger than fiction.Ē Itís not the tale of a murder, although thatís in the backdrop. Itís the tale of the connection made between a worldly and eccentric (if that little word can be used to describe the vast strangeness that was Truman Capote) writer and a poorly born yet culturally driven killer.
There are a great deal of challenges in making a film like this, the biggest of which is overcoming the hurdle of how inaccessible the subjects are. Not only are we to humanize a brutal murderer but we are to feel for the bizarre Capote whose every action and word seems caricature. Then we are to understand the kind of relationship that they donít make films about.
I donít believe Infamous gets there. The film presents too many easy answers. Itís all a little too pat. Capoteís New York is a hollow little world filled with shallow people who have a lot but do nothing. Kansas is a simple little place where the people are cold to that which is different until they are won over, quite easily with tales of Frank Sinatra and Humphrey Bogart. Capote is a victim of cruelty who overcomes by building his strange persona and shooting clever barbs at the world. Isnít he sweet being so smart and odd?
Then he becomes interested in a murder, flies to the little town, wins over the townspeople with his charm and befriends the murderers so he can go on to write one of the most famous books of the century. One of the killers, smart beyond his upbringing, names Perry develops a relationship with Truman that changes him forever. We even get to see the very odd moment when they kiss.
A film telling this story needs to give us more than that. It needs do more than simply tell us that Capote fell in love with the killer to make it seem real. Emotions are far more complicated than that. This is a very complex and problematic relationship the film is playing with and all the film tells us is that Perry is gay and needs to be loved. When Capote offers him that he is grateful. I donít think thatís quite realistic.
A film telling this story should explore the different motivations of these people and not present such simple answers. What about the motivation of writing the book and inventing a whole new genre of literature which would fuel book sales for the rest of the century? What about the nature of identity that is stripped away as these men and these worlds collide? I donít think Infamous give us this in a satisfactory way.
However, the film isnít a bad film. This take is quite funny and sometimes moving. However I imagine there could be a film out there that digs a little deeper into this story and helps make it all feel a little more real.