It's easy to become conflicted over the character of Truman Capote in this picture, just as Capote himself appeared to be conflicted in his relationship with one of the Clutter Family murderers, Perry Smith. It was a little unsettling to hear Capote outright lie to Smith the first time (when he said he didn't have a title to his book yet), but then he repeatedly lied time and time again to secure an advantage in gaining insights into Smith's character. Maybe 'lie' isn't the right word, how about manipulate? Capote was a master manipulator when it came to getting the information he wanted and needed for his story. I'm not so sure I wouldn't have done the same.
The title for the film might be a bit of a misnomer. "Capote" isn't about the life of the esteemed novelist, it's really about a five or so year window during which Capote became captivated by the murder of a Kansas family and decided to write about it. I'm not sure if this was the first 'non-fiction novel' ever written as Capote claims to his publisher in the story, but that probably doesn't matter. If you've read "In Cold Blood", you'll know it's a chilling account of the brutal Clutter murders, a riveting read that's hard to put down once you get started.
Despite the real life Capote's celebrity, the only time I've ever seen him, and this seems kind of weird, was as a panelist on a handful of the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts aired during the Seventies. Every time he appeared, as I recall, he utilized that affectation where he brings two fingers to his eye underneath the eyeglass lens. I can't recall if Phillip Seymour Hoffman did it more than once in this movie, but the one time I did make note of it was while riding to the premiere of "To Kill a Mockingbird" with his publisher William Shawn (Bob Balaban).
What one probably needs to do if you haven't already done so, is catch up with the 1967 film based on Capote's book. As a complement to this picture, it does a much better job of detailing the dysfunctional, sordid and senseless lives of Richard Hickok and Perry Smith, while the stark black and white filming adds to the horror of the Clutter nightmare. In that movie, Perry Smith is portrayed by actor Robert Blake, and thinking about it now, wouldn't it have been something if Blake and Hoffman were contemporaries to appear in a film like this together. That would have been something, wouldn't it?
Reading some of the negative reviews on this board, it appears that the film's pace was a problem for most. Granted, this is not an action movie, but the drama presented is noteworthy and provides some insight into the complexity of Truman Capote's character. What might serve well would be a more complete story on his life and times, the description of his early life to prisoner Smith sounded like the kind of stuff that would make for a compelling biography.