There’s a necrophiliac fascination to this documentary about the life and times of Truman Capote, author of the 1958 novella Breakfast at Tiffany’s – filmed with Audrey Hepburn – and the true-crime reportage masterpiece In Cold Blood from 1966. The latter was about the brutal slaying of a Kansas farming family in which the cold-bloodedness of the crime was matched by the cold-bloodedness of Capote’s literary and journalistic performance – befriending the culprits with prison visits and privately agitating for their death penalty to give his book a sensational ending. If anyone had the splinter of ice in the heart that Graham Greene said a novelist needed, it was him.
Capote was also a gay man in an era when being one was dangerous, but when those prominent in the arts could hide it in plain sight with extravagant mannerisms. Norman Mailer admired his courage and I found myself thinking of a German word invented by the English writer Ben Schott: schmetterlingsschnauze, or “butterfly jaws” – the toughness of the dandy.