For those who've seen Capote, the familiarity of Douglas McGrath's Infamous may work against what is an involving story, this time with a richer cast.
The emphasis on Truman Capote, fey, and nebbish, with a high nasal pitch, is similar to Bennett Miller's more absorbing, powerful picture in showing his obsession with creating a memorable non-fiction tome, "In Cold Blood."
McGrath, also serving as screenwriter, just tweaks the perspective a bit as one sees Capote (Toby Jones) among some high-class gossip in New York in the late 1950's.
Among the coterie of "swans" who encircle him are Babe Paley (Sigourney Weaver), Slim Keith (Hope Davis), Marella Agnelli (Isabella Rossellini), and Diana Vreeland (Juliet Stevenson).
What they find perplexing is that he wants to go to Holcomb, Kansas, of all places, to write about a grisly murder. Sandra Bullock does the Catherine Keener part here, Nelle Harper Lee, who would have her glory with "To Kill A Mockingbird." Truman's childhood friend, Lee, has trouble with his immersion into the case and his growing relationship with one of the killers Perry Smith (the new 007, Daniel Craig, also from Munich). It's clear to her that all of this is having an adverse effect on Capote's life.
McGrath ably works from George Plimpton's recollections of the esteemed writer, who started at the New Yorker magazine and who would author "Breakfast at Tiffany's." There's a stylish period observation to it all that has camera interviews with the characters commenting as the seminal non-fiction novel takes form.
The cast espouses much attitude and spunk, especially in contextualizing this rather complex man. Bullock, in a more substantial part than Crash, does noticeably well as Truman's confidante, his real connection to the outside world. Jeff Daniels (RV) is effective as the gruff sheriff, and Craig is intense, yet in a more cerebral way, as he showcases more of his versatility as in The Mother.
British thespian Jones endows Capote with wit and eccentricity, but doesn't dazzle with the soulful shadings of Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Infamous was mostly shot in Texas, in rather close proximity to Capote, so it was hard in the editing process to bring more of an intense, unshowy distinction. What is less moving now is the course of the relationship between Capote and Smith, becoming less credible as the yearning becomes more visible.
The non-linear movements also, at times, blunt the flow of story which is held together by the colorfulness of all involved. A jazzy texture infuses the detailed production as the Holcomb residents are unable to identify with someone they refer to as "ma'am." If the result feels more sensationalized than intimate and remarkable, than a cultural holism resonates as a shameless Capote and those around the murdered Clutter family were won over by each other.