Screen Gems

Forget ‘Capote.’ Time to revisit that -other- Truman Capote biopic…

Infamous

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a re-watch.

The Overshadowed: Infamous

Everyone remembers that the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman took home his only Academy Award for the title role in Capote, the wonderful Truman Capote biopic directed by Bennett Miller. It’s unfortunate that the success of Hoffman and that film overshadowed another worthy biopic of the Breakfast at Tiffany’s author, and another incredible leading performance.

Toby Jones embodies Capote in Infamous, a movie that focuses on the author’s quest to complete his nonfiction novel, In Cold Blood. The movie chronicles Capote’s life as a New York socialite, gossiping among the wealthy and famous, and the odd, unyielding attraction the author had to the real-life murders of Holcomb, Kansas. The film postulates that Capote had an affair with one of the murderers, Perry Smith (Daniel Craig), and that the lengthy appeals process before Smith’s execution fueled Capote’s alcoholism and drug abuse before ultimately destroying his mind.

Despite its dark premise, Infamous has a much lighter, brighter tone than Capote, though both movies essentially tell the same story. The movie also paints a more layered picture of Capote himself, who alternates between brooding intellectualism and effervescent giddiness. That owes much to the brilliant performance by Toby Jones, who bears a striking resemblance to the author.

Comparing Infamous with Capote is basically pointless–though the films cover the same territory, they have very different views of their protagonists. Capote made more of an impression, maybe because it came out first, and maybe because Philip Seymour Hoffman was a bigger star than Toby Jones. Infamous takes a more expansive view of Capote’s life and inner circle, and features a stellar supporting cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Lee Pace, John Benjamin Hickey, Isabella Rossellini, Hope Davis and Sigourney Weaver.

Ambitious if uneven, and featuring a performance for the ages by Toby Jones, we suggest giving Infamous a shot. It’s a fun and provocative look at a great, gay artist and a possible gay affair told with more humor and less dry intellectualism than its award-winning competitor. Capote may have taken home the gold; that doesn’t make Infamous less worthy.

Streams on Amazon, Hulu, YouTube, iTunes & VUDU.