A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
"Infamous" is that other Truman Capote movie, and it plays like doodles in the margins of last year's "Capote" -- more Answered Prayers than In Cold Blood. That in itself is fine, and for the first half hour or so of "Infamous" I found myself thinking: "Why not?"
Why shouldn't there be a fizzy, comedic take on the naughty adventures of the Park Avenue gadabout as he fashioned In Cold Blood, coming after Richard Brooks' spare black-and-white 1967 of the "nonfiction novel," and Bennett Miller's somber character study in "Capote" (2005) in which the artist creates a work of art that demands the death of the thing he loves -- not just Perry Smith, the murderer with whom Capote was allegedly smitten, but his own creative self? Why not a movie that concentrates on the contrast between the writer's frivolous party-boy side and the brutal murders in Kansas, the exotic and colorful tropical specimin who becomes a fish-out-of water when he jumps from his luxurious highrise swan pond into the Midwestern plains?
That's what "Infamous" starts off to be, a story about Capote as a denizen of an upper-crust milieu, peopled with names that were once semi-famous because of their wealth and style and the more famous names they once knew, or at least talked about over cocktails. There's a wistfulness running through the movie, which views the Social Register figures of the '50s and '60s as living anachronisms, faint and ghostly relics.
"Infamous" whets its whistle with an aperitif montage of sparkling cocktails, and segues into a nightclub performance by Kitty Dean (Gwyneth Paltrow), singing Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" Midway through, Dean (the movie's pseudonym for Peggy Lee) lapses into an "Is That All There Is?" moment, and leaves the crowd wondering: Is this an artist connecting with her material on a personal level, or is it all part of the performance? The question reverberates throughout the rest of the movie.