Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Infamous Movie Poster Image
Mature drama follows author's quest for fame.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 118 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

While the protagonists are charismatic and compelling, they are (with the exception of Harper Lee) also arrogant, ambitious, and deceitful, disdaining their social "inferiors" the story follows Capote's eventually tragic efforts to "fit in" with the wealthy socialite crowd.


Explicit images of the crime scene (bloody mattress) and Clutter family bodies (bound and brutalized); shootings occur in flashbacks and out-of-frame (guns pointed off screen); one disturbing scene shows Perry threatening Truman with rape in his prison cell; Dick's hanging at the film's end is explicit and harrowing (Perry's takes place off screen).


Truman's stories and jokes tend to be bawdy; he behaves flamboyantly (small-towners mistake him for a woman); Truman sends Perry porn magazines in prison (glimpse of covers); frequent sexual slang; references to Dick's desire to rape the Clutter daughter before he killed her.


Frequent uses of "f--k" (30+); plus other profanity ("s--t," "bitch," "a--hole," variations of "c----cker").

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Upper-crusty 1950s-style social drinking and drunkenness (martinis, gin and tonic, scotch, champagne); reference to father "drinking himself to death" frequent cigarette smoking, some cigars.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film isn't for kids. It showcases difficult concepts and images, including mass murder, rape, homosexuality and homophobia, and the sensationalizing effects of media. Images include the Clutter family crime scene (bloody bodies and furniture), as well as several reenactments of violence: shooting, smothering, and an unnerving scene in a prison cell, where inmate threatens visitor. Execution by hanging shown explicitly, as is a passionate, illicit kiss in a prison cell. Characters make repeated references to sex and rape, some joking, some menacing. Characters smoke lots of cigarettes and drink often. Both prisoners and Manhattan socialites use foul language ("f--k" most frequently).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bydiscretion April 9, 2008

emotionally moving

Much deeper than previous move "Capote" -- and acting was great. This version of Capote's writing of the book In Cold Blood completed what was l... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byholes April 9, 2008

I laughed

I thought the move was great

What's the story?

INFAMOUS centers on author Truman Capote's (Toby Jones) search for love and his blurring of fact and fiction as he develops his best-seller, In Cold Blood. Truman's search takes him to Holcomb, Kan., where, in 1959, the Clutter family was brutally murdered by Perry Smith (Daniel Craig) and Dick Hickock (Lee Pace). The flamboyant Truman brings along his subdued, thoughtful best friend, fellow writer Nelle Harper Lee (Sandra Bullock). She helps him seem less threatening to the locals, including Kansas Bureau of Investigations agent Alvin Dewey Jr. (Jeff Daniels). When Truman declares his intention to use "fictional techniques" to tell the story of the murders and the murderers, Lee advises him on the distinction between "reporting" and writing fiction. Truman's relationship with Perry Smith involves mutual exploitation and seduction. Both men conjure romantic fantasies about each other (culminating in a kiss in Perry's cell that leaves Truman unsettled). While Truman is entranced by Perry's violence, he's also afraid of it, seeing an alternate version of himself in his subject.

Is it any good?

The narrative of this film is compelling. Both Truman and Perry lost their mothers to suicide, both are homosexual during a time when they're persecuted for it, and both find outlets for their frustrations -- Truman in art and extravagant self-styling, Perry in murder. Truman's genius grants him adulation, while Perry becomes "infamous," but Truman is unable to forgive himself.

Douglas McGrath's movie focuses on how Truman judges people, including himself. It's clear that he's wracked by guilt, desire, and need, even as his pursuit of fame and admiration leads him to disregard others' feelings. To frame Truman's blurring of boundaries, the film cuts away repeatedly and awkwardly to "interviews" with his Manhattan acquaintances. These talking-head scenes become a showy display of famous people playing famous people, unfortunately highlighting the distinction between fiction and fact rather than complementing it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the close relationship between Truman and Nelle, who compete and support one another in their careers. How does the movie characterize their complicated friendship? And how does Truman's relationship with Perry reflect the author's own insecurities and desires to be a respected artist? How can art reshape violence so that it's thrilling or compelling? How does the movie suggest that Capote suffered for his art, his desire to be famous, and his unresolved personal conflicts? Families can also talk about some of the film's underlying issues, such as journalistic ethics, media sensationalism, and the death penalty.

Movie details

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