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Substantially the same story as Capote a year earlier, an uncomfortable proximity that brings to mind the competing Columbuses of 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Christopher Columbus or the competing Earps of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp. A second account, written and directed by Douglas McGrath, of the birth pains of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood inevitably shifts our focus to the accuracy of the story and away from, so to speak, the truth of it, the resonance of it. But perhaps that's partly because this second account is simply not as good a story, covering fewer aspects of it in shallower detail. (The artificial device of mock interviews with acquaintances of Capote's -- Harper Lee, Bennett Cerf, Babe Paley, Diana Vreeland, Gore Vidal, Alvin Dewey, et al., in actorish incarnations by Sandra Bullock, Peter Bogdanovich, Sigourney Weaver, Juliet Stevenson, Michael Panes, and Jeff Daniels, respectively -- testifies to McGrath's clumsiness in getting his information out.) The main contribution of the latecomer is just to corroborate the accuracy of its more truthful, more resonant predecessor: the writer's love of scarves, his use of Hollywood gossip as entrée to Kansas society, etc. What it contributes of its own boils down to the Kansans' repeated mistaking of the castrato-voiced Capote for a woman -- the one point of originality which the previous version might envy -- and the unsubtle kiss on the lips between him and the murderer Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) in the jail cell. The diminutive Toby Jones in the lead role is much more of a walking-talking caricature than was Philip Seymour Hoffman in the same role, but it's a perfectly acceptable, perfectly recognizable caricature, possibly more suited to a supporting role than to a lead. (2006) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R


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