THE HIGH COST OF ART

When three people in a farm family are killed in Holcomb, Kansas, Truman Capote (Toby Jones) and (Nelle) Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock) embark upon a journey to delve into the impact of this crime on the people of the village. It is 1959 and Truman has already displayed an extraordinary literary talent; Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Perennial Modern Classics) is about to bring her success as well.

Thus begins this movie, which, like the previous one, Capote, focuses on Truman’s attempts to ingratiate himself enough with the townspeople to earn admittance into their thoughts and feelings.

In the process, Truman Capote becomes so involved with one of the killers, Perry Smith (Daniel Craig), that he almost becomes part of the story.

At the end, after the hangings and after the book has exceeded every expectation, it’s almost as though all of their lives are but an epilogue to the main event.

Narrating at the conclusion, the character Harper Lee comments that, in America, there is no attention paid to the “small” moments in your artistic life; instead, after the success, everyone asks, as only Americans can: “What’s next?”

This comment seemed so poignant, considering that, despite the success that still surrounds To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Perennial Modern Classics), this book was the main event for Harper Lee as well.

The actors left their intriguing marks on the characters, adding a depth and humanity—even on the criminals—and also gave us a peek into the thoughts and feelings of the writers who turned the human moments into art.

While I enjoyed this movie, I was disappointed that Harper Lee was portrayed as a footnote to Truman (or a sidekick), with only the occasional moments that revealed that she might be his moral compass as well. I feel compelled to learn more about her, which is why I am currently reading Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, a portrait written by Charles J. Shields.

The high cost of the writing process was very evident throughout this film. If more of this angst had been portrayed, I would gladly have seen this movie as a five star creation. Instead, I could only grant four stars to Infamous.

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2 thoughts on “THE HIGH COST OF ART

  1. As I mentioned in my other comment, I loved this movie. However, I do agree that Harper Lee could have been better represented in the movie. Not owing to Sandra’s performance, but to the writing of the script. The representation of Harper Lee in Capote (played by Katherine Keener) was much better, in my opinion. Overall, though I liked Infamous better than Capote.

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