Gwyneth Paltrow Stops the Show

Infamous is one of the two Truman Capote biopics released in 2006 and happens to be the less notable and the less impressive—with one crucial exception. It’s opening credits appear over a live performance of “What Is This Thing Called Love?” by Gwyneth Paltrow, who appears only in this one sequence. Paltrow can actually hold a tune and hasn’t shied away from showing off this talent (Country Strong and an appearance with Cee-lo Green).  In the film, her voice is mildly pleasant while singing the tune and she essentially becomes background noise — until she suddenly falters for no apparent reason. The band grinds to a halt, the crowd takes notice, and she sings the next verse a cappella, in a mournful whisper, as if each syllable is causing her tremendous pain. Then she takes a breath, snaps her fingers, and the band launches back into the song at the original jazzy pace, as if nothing ever happened. This credit sequence is essentially the entire movie in miniature, as it’s not clear whether the audience just witnessed a genuine breakdown — the singer unexpectedly overcome by the emotion of the song — or merely the canny simulation of a breakdown, à la one of James Brown’s famous fake walk-offs (complete with cape). There’s no way to know whether this woman is feeling something or simply manipulating her audience into feeling something, which speaks more to the queasy relationship between Capote and Perry Smith than anything in the film proper. But is does encapsulate the gayety of the time and makes the listener take notice of the of the performance and connect, before jarring them back into revelry.

Or you can just slink around next to a guy covered in feathers to get attention.

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