Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
The words of the immortal writers Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams already speak volumes in themselves, but filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland gives them more poignancy in her newest documentary. Truman & Tennessee provides an intriguing insight into the lives and minds of the eccentric geniuses as it chronicles their turbulent relationship over the best part of 40 years through their own perspectives – even if the title is somewhat misleading.
The French director’s feature does not get off to a good start, however. The opening plays like an in memoriam Powerpoint presentation about the pair. While the voice performances from Jim Parsons as Capote and Zachary Quinto as Williams are striking impersonations, they’re not enough to liven up the sluggishly stiff introduction. Mercifully, this section doesn’t overstay its welcome and the momentum picks up when the title card appears on screen. The American actors’ voiceovers are joined by clips of adaptations of the writers’ notable works (A Streetcar Named Desire, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Baby Doll) and a selection of interviews by Dick Cavett and David Frost in which the subjects lay their souls bare. Vreeland freely plays with this mountain of archive footage, weaving a tapestry of friendship, art, creativity and everything else in between.
There is no shortage of topics covered here. Loneliness, love, homosexuality, addiction, jealousy, sex, success and failure – nothing is off the table and the authors have a lot of profound and fascinating thoughts on each subject. This aspect is both this documentary’s greatest strength and weakness. Its sheer scope gives viewers a broad and introspective insight into the lives of these men. The fact that everything is told from their own words gives the movie an untouchable authenticity that simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t.
On the other hand, this is a film that isn’t really about any one thing. Its focal point continuously shifts. Likewise, it’s rare that the writers talk about one another and they never actually speak to each other (hence the misleading title). However, the adjective “intimate” is apt. This picture is a compelling examination of Capote and Tennessee, and a fitting tribute to the impact their work continues to leave on our contemporary culture.
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Glasgow Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
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