Film Review: The Capote Tapes

What happened after Breakfast at Tiffany’s – The true life of author Truman Capote.

By Sara Darling

Who actually was Truman Capote? More than a dinky man with a huge, if not slightly bitchy, personality and lispy voice. Almost an orphan, he was raised by relatives in Alabama after his parents split up when he was four, and escaped to New York as soon as he could to invent a better life.

Coming in at just 5ft 2in, he was small by anyone’s standards, but packed a powerful punch- with work just influential as he was. Everyone knew Capote- or at least wanted to know him. He was after all the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s which took the world by storm, and turned into a film with Audrey Hepburn in 1958.

Capote Tapes is a deeply insightful, no frills, docu film which explores Capote’s phenomenal career, lifestyle and friends via voiceovers, original footage from and real time interviews from his contemporaries at the time. Held together by his adopted daughter, Kate Harrington, who at the age of 13 was unofficially taken under his wing, when Capote’s troubled relationship with her father ended. She was the daughter he had always wanted.

As an openly gay man in the literary world, especially when it wasn’t talked about to be gay, Capote surrounded himself by women and was seen as a rather feminine dandy. Life consisted of boozy, celebrity-strewn lunches filled with scandal and gossip, which he soaked up and immersed himself in. If there was such an expression as “fem-hen”, Capote would be it! He relished in hearing the immoral stories of his close knit circle of female friends which included socialites and wealthy wives- Slim Keith, Babe Paley and Gloria Vanderbilt, his “swans”.

However, he was the poison pellet amongst these glamour pusses, and his pithy way with words was to be his downfall. Advance chapters of the unfinished epic society novel Answered Prayers, were published in Esquire magazine, bringing his comfortable life as the Prince of the Pen crashing down. Based on the nouveau riche society, with whom he mingled, his characters resembled the true life characters he knew, far too well, and the uncomfortable secrets which were told in confidence were exposed. According to the fim, this lost him numerous A-lister friends including many of his female confidants, and although he had always stated it was fiction, the damage had been done as the stories he exposed were too close to the bone.

Capote’s alliance then switched to the darker side of New York as he embraced the debauched underworld of Studio 54, which is remembered by fellow voyeur and friend Dotson Rader. With no shortage of alcohol, men and drugs, the scene included Andy Warhol, Elton John, Grace Jones and other icons who no doubt would have had plenty of stories to tell. However, by this time, Capote was on a downward spiral of self-destruct, and his self confessed greatest book, never surfaced as a complete manuscript. In a bleak finale, we see one of his last boozy TV interviews, which suggests that you don’t know whether he even believes this himself.

Watch the trailer:

The Capote Tapes will be available at altitude.film and on all digital platforms across the UK and Ireland from 29 January.