Truman & Tennessee: Intimate Conversation, 2020.
Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland.
Starring Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto.
A study of the coexistence and careers of two of the most famous American writers of the 20th century – Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams.
Movies about authors can be very dry. While their work is exciting, often the people behind it are not quite as charismatic when they are given attention. This is certainly not the case with Truman Capote or Tennessee Williams – the gigantic figures of 20th century America whose personalities are as fascinating as their famous literary creations. The connections between them are at the heart of director Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s documentary, which puts two icons of American writing side by side and explores the ways in which their lives intersect.
The exam comes in many formats, using imagery and images from both men, as well as chat presentations hosted by Dick Cavett and David Frost. Most interestingly, the film uses words written by both authors as voices, with Jim Parsons trying to emulate Capote’s unique vocal strains – albeit occasionally. Initial explosion theorySheldon and Zachary Quinto deliver the more relaxed Williams of Mississippi.
Vreeland digs into the largest shares of similar stars, and long segments are dedicated to Capote’s likes Cold-blooded and Williams A tram called Desire. But he is more interested behind their work, and indeed their shared protection from the infamous doctor to the stars, Dr. Feelgood, who treated his clients with highly addictive “vitamin images” containing amphetamine and methamphetamine. These are the men behind the material.
The film’s elegance is that it’s built so intelligently that it doesn’t come up in a chummy fireside chat or a comic word war. Sometimes the words of these two men complement each other, while sometimes they are in stark contrast, such as when Capote’s praise of New York City splits directly into Williams and calls it an “insidious” area with an “artificial aura”. Their public race had a brazen mud drop at the time, but Vreeland keeps rear burners here. They look like a performance, and the film focuses more on trying to cut it to find reality.
It’s really impressive that the documentary contains such an honest discussion of most of the two life icons. Both admit to being driven, at least in part, by jealousy, while Williams is quietly destructive in discussing the perfectly justified fear that his works will be judged not on their original origins but on Hollywood film adaptations that bring them into the mainstream. The film is strongest when it scratches under the surfaces of these creative giants and reveals humanity in their souls.
The tone is, as the title suggests, intimate and relaxed. Sometimes this leaves things a little slow-moving and slow – especially as the film begins to feel less conversational and more like a two-career pottery. It seems that Vreeland is a bit torn between playing for those who know Capote and Williams and viewers who may hear about their own actions for the first time.
But the general feeling is interesting when exploring the ways in which creativity and the pressures associated with success can weigh on a person – especially when parties and drugs are constantly attracting. It is the most interesting and interesting meditation for writing and for panic attempts to maintain a literary career. By allowing the two greatest minds of the 20th century to study their lives in their own words, it manifests itself as truly enlightening.
Photos: Getty / Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock / Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.
Flickering myth rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him On Twitter via @TomJBeasley for film opinions, wrestling issues, and puns.