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  • Wendy Shreve

A SOCIAL BUTTERFLY: THE CAPOTE TAPES

I don't care what anybody says about me as long as it isn't true.

--Truman Capote


No one, even his most loyal friends, would argue that Truman Capote could be a bitch. Complexity, innate talent when used, the writer donned a public persona that hid a melancholia he could never reconcile. Instead, he collected other people's stories, particularly women of New York society from the fifties through the seventies which he not only remembers--his aural skills helped--and he would eventually fictionalize in an infamous, unfinished novel, Answered Prayers.


During these years George Plimpton and others interviewed the theatrical figure, many of those discussions were recorded on audio tape. Well-known personalities who divulged their thoughts about Capote included: Lauren Bacall, Norman Mailer, CZ Guest, Lee Radziwill, as well as other socialites. This latest documentary about Capote replays some of those conversations, supplementing the talks with television interviews, "The Dick Cavett Show," and real time recollections by Jay McInerney, Capote's adopted daughter, Kate Harrington, Andre Leon Talley and other close friends; writers.


Only a cursory mention of Harper Lee, a curious omission, enters the narrative. Much of this retelling of Capote's life includes his sad childhood, his notable love affairs, and prominently his being the bon vivant whom everyone wanted to be seen with or entertain. He played the part with glee, sometimes to others' detriment.


Anyone who has seen Capote (2005) starring the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman and/or Infamous (2006) with Toby Jones (also providing a marvelous characterization) may have some idea of the writer's larger-than-life persona. However, this latest documentary, The Capote Tapes (2021)

emphasizes the more sensational, flashier gay icon. Snippets of Capote's writing process, more famous literary productions give a nod to his craft. His adopted daughter's heartfelt memories also add solemnity to this movie.


Viewers may come away saddened not only by his untimely death but his need to share what had been personal confidences by many of his female friends, under the guise of fiction. Yes, these women led duplicitous lives as well and had few friends they could trust. Should they have known better? Maybe. The result you will need to see in this latest homage to a singular sensation, The Capote Tapes.




Unrated. Language, adult themes, brief nudity.


In theaters September 10 and available on VOD or DVD October 26.



Earlier reviews not seen on this website (before May 20, 2021) are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies or my previous blog site, featuringfilm.com


Care to share? Post or e-mail your comments to featuringfilmreviewer@gmail.com

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