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Essence & Sensibility

The differences between the portrayals of Capote and Johnny Cash. Check out the latest Ask the Critic question and post your own

Capote, Philip Seymour Hoffman | THE REAL FAKE TRUMAN Capote 's Hoffman
THE REAL FAKE TRUMAN Capote's Hoffman

The differences between the portrayals of Capote and Johnny Cash

Philip Seymour Hoffman has gotten more praise for portraying Truman Capote than Joaquin Phoenix has for his Johnny Cash. Yet to me, Hoffman's performance feels like mimicry while Phoenix aimed more for the character's essence. Your thoughts? —Luke Madsen
A timely topic, since Jamie Foxx took home an Oscar last year for ''becoming'' Ray Charles, and odds are in Hoffman's favor to win this year. I get nervous around words like ''essence,'' since the quality is so unquantifiable and the experience so personal. (Did David Strathairn convey the essence of Edward R. Murrow in Good Night, and Good Luck? How would you know unless you remember Murrow?) Still, I don't think ''mimicry'' does justice to the way Hoffman located the little-explored conflicted internal drives hidden beneath so outsize an external presentation; through him, we discover a Capote as surprising as his image was well-known. (Foxx did the same with Charles.) I liked Phoenix's performance very much, but I don't think he conveyed the gray areas inside the Man in Black.

(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)

Originally posted Mar 03, 2006 Published in issue #867 Mar 10, 2006 Order article reprints
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