U.S. Release Date: January 14, 2002
Running Time: 90 minutes
MPAA Classification: R (Language, drug use)
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, JD Walsh, Kathy Bates, Jimmy Raskin, Jim Wise, Erika Alexander, Stephen Tobolowsky
Director: Todd Louiso
Producers: Ruth Charny, Chris Hanley, Corky O’Hara, Jeffrey Roda, Fernando Sulichin
Screenplay: Gordy Hoffman
By STEPHEN EARNEST / November 21, 2011
Wilson is upset. He’s disheveled, confused, angry, and not really sure of how to cope with the recent loss of his wife. His anger really isn’t directed at anybody in particular. Maybe he’s upset with himself. Maybe the world. Who knows? Maybe he just needs to vent. But either way, he’s the main reason to watch Love Liza.
Love Liza explores the life of a man whose wife commits suicide, leaving him all alone in a place where he doesn’t quite feel comfortable. When she’s gone, all that he’s left with is a bitter mother-in-law and a mysterious note. The note is written by his wife, Liza. Throughout the course of the film. Wilson (portrayed brilliantly by Philip Seymour Hoffman) deals with his suffering by huffing gasoline. He can’t naturally cope with pain, so he turns to gasoline for help. It’s an odd choice fora drug, but at effective one. Slowly, he becomes more worse than when he started. The drug begins to take over his life more and more, and he becomes addicted to it. People outside are wondering what’s happening to him.
Love Liza isn’t a particularly exciting film. It’s not even all that interesting. But it’s wonderful to watch Hoffman work. He plays the role of Wilson with such power and strength that you watch the movie just for him. And it also has something that most films don’t: it’s genuine. It’s had a considerable amount of time and thought put into it and while it isn’t utterly perfect, it’s honest and anyone that’s had a loss in their life can easily relate to it.
There’s not much plot here and the pacing is a little off, but Love Liza isn’t a bad film. It’d be forgettable, if only it weren’t for Hoffman’s lead performance. This isn’t one of those movies that you’d go out of your way to watch, but if you come across it and there’s nothing else going on, give it a chance. Who knows? You might be surprised.