Our Community Engagement Officer, Becca Richardson, reviews ‘Truman and Tennessee’, which you can see as part of the Glasgow Film Festival!
Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation.
When we think of the world’s greatest artists, playwrights, novelists, and poets, the first thing that often comes to our minds are the works that made them so, and then, with some, the ‘scandals’ that their eras attached to them. This was my direct thought process when asked to review a film documenting the friendships and fallouts of Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. An instinctive thought which I will never have again when thinking of these two playwrights, thanks to Vreelands’s, ‘Truman and Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation’.
Lisa Immordino Vreeland portrays Capote and Williams in a way which yes, celebrates their work but most importantly, shows the tenderness and vulnerability of both men. Throughout the documentary there are key themes surrounding the nature of both men’s psyches. Both feel somewhat trapped in their own minds, giving the audience insight into their internal struggles.
More relatable similarities of the two are effectively demonstrated by Vreeland when listening to passages from the writers’ letters and diaries. It is here that we are shown the turmoil and struggles they both had surrounding their sexualities and their challenging childhoods. Such darkness is then cut through with positivity, as the commentary quotes Capote and Williams’ praise of one another. An effective introduction to their friendship which seems somewhat fuelled by admiration.
However, as we later learn, despite fame, money, talent, intelligence, and prestige, everyone can be a victim of jealousy or envy. A theme effectively demonstrated as we see a more human and ‘bitchy’ side to our play writes.
I must praise Vreeland’s use of archived clips from when both writers separately appeared on popular US Late Night Talk Shows. The strength and potent language, used by Williams in particular, to describe controversial themes in his work still sticks to me. It is something that we are unlikely to see on late night television in our lifetime.
Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto did a fine job of commentating throughout the film, however I would argue that Parsons’ execution of Capote was somewhat distracting. Throughout his dialogue there is a high flurry to his voice which takes away from the eloquent words of Capote.
I would say for any fan of Capote and Williams, this is a must see. It showcases touching and fragile moments of each playwright’s lives, whilst at the same time demonstrating their strength when openly discussing their sometimes distain of their own works! Or often their regrets in the casting or executions of their award-winning plays being made for the movies.
For those who are somewhat new to the story of Capote and Williams, this can be a difficult watch. Not due to the content or themes, but without 3rd party commentary or annotation, it can be difficult to get into.
Overall, I think this is a wonderfully honest and interesting documentary, which fans of the American playwrights will really enjoy.