Truman Capote and Tennesee Williams were two of the most famous American writers of their time. Vreeland has exquistely constructed doc focusing on the brilliant work, personal struggles and cultural impact of two men who’s rivalry and friendship drove each other beyond the brink, yet somehow they was an underlying understanding of what made them tick and woke up each other’ s demons. Mostly composed of words (read by Emmy winner Jim Parsons and Zachary Quinto) and making use of side by side vignettes from various talk shows, audiences grab an inking of their compeitive spirit. Were they personalities, writers or both? Or, were they just two spirited, misunderstood spriits floating through this thing we call life.
At various stages, both created rich, imaginary worlds with iconic, unforgettable characters like Blanche DuBois and Holly Golightly becoming a staple for that era. Yet, equally paid the ultimate price of fame through alcoholism and periods of artistic stagnation that plague every artist from time to time. What would become the impetus for such a lush, grand convo was instigated from a Vanity Fair column by the Mexican painter/photographer Miguel Covarrubias published between 1931 and 1934 centering on interviews between famous people that historically couldn’t have taken place. Covarrubias drew caricatures and made up the conversations, basically saying anything he wanted…and did.
It’s revelatory, when you realize both men were from the deep south, came from broken childhoods, absent fathers, suffered from depression, became alcoholics and wanted to write from a very young age. It goes without saying, their thirst for being grandiose allowed them to share this joie de vivre style of living in Europe with a torrent of elite Europeans associates. As a theatre geek, learning how much of Williams and members of his family were infused into each and every character as a therapeutic method of breaking and nourishing tender bonds was enlgihtening. On the filp side, Truman explaining his work as an inspiration to exercise demons isn’t a surprise. Like he says in “Other Voices, Other Rooms, “What we most want is only to be held…and told…that everything is going to be all right.” It’s a desire he would spend a lifetime attempting to capture by inventing a world to fit his larger than life persona.
The vulnerability displayed during interviews with David Frost and Dick Cavett, provides a glaring insight into these complex personalities The conversations are so intimate. With Frost drawing things out of them that Dick Cavett was never able to achieve. Frost, clearly making Truman and Tennessee uncomfortable, while getting them to open up in a manner that only live televison could capture.
They were unapoligetically gay menin an era when dating men was whispered or discussed like a dirty word. Although Tennessee would be just a tad more discreet in his exploits, Truman was out and proud. One of the most hilarious moments was listeining to them discuss meeting up in Italy only to have a dog thwart them sharing living quarters, learning about the ‘Bo Peep Squad‘ or Capote’s disgrunteld disappointment over the studio selection Audrey Hepburn over Marilyn Monroe for Breakfast at Tiffany’s will give audiences a slight moment of feeling like a Hollywood insider. Fans of both literary geniuses will be more than satisfied in learning more about these lives well lived on the page and off as writers are continuously in the company of the characters they have so graciously shared with the masses in perpetuity. Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, Truman & Tennessee opens June 18th in New York (Film Forum), in Los Angeles (Nuart, Laemmle Playhouse & Town Center 5) in virtual cinemas nationwide through KinoMarquee.com.