“I did everything I could. I truly did”
– Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote, 2005.
I never truly understood narcissism until I saw this movie. Up until that time, I thought it referred to someone who was self-centered. I never understood the malevolence and manipulation, the conceit and total lack of empathy. While Hoffman eerily personifies Truman Capote throughout this film, it is this scene in particular that had me on the floor. We see the words “in cold blood” and assume they refer to a horrific crime. They do, however, in this film, another manipulation taking place alongside these terrible acts all along. Throughout the course of the film, Capote sees potential for a literary masterpiece – one that will put him on the map – when he learns of the brutal murders that occur in a small town in Kansas. He proceeds to charm the town into telling him their story before becoming completely entrenched in the minds of the two murderers. We see him begin to unravel, becoming obsessed with his work, and fall into a depression.
In this final culminating scene, as Capote says goodbye to the murderers before their execution, you can see him start to fall apart, and within that, reach for his narcissistic defense. He seeks repentance from them, thus clearing his conscience, at least in his own mind.
I haven’t been able to watch this scene until now since Hoffman’s passing. All I can say is thank goodness we have it on film for the rest of days.