Love Liza

Philip Seymour Hoffman delivers a gloriously deranged performance as Wilson Joel, a many trying to come to grips with his demons in Love Liza, a film based on a play written by his brother Gordy. Hoffman (Boogie Nights, The Big Lebowski, Magnolia) is one of American cinema’s most intriguing actors, but until now he has not been given the challenge of carrying an entire film. This is a dominating performance as he uses his multifarious skills to bring Wilson to life in this troubling yet completely absorbing story of a man struggling to deal with the unexpected suicide of his wife.
Wilson has a good job in a small technological design company, but after the staggering blow of his wife’s death he decides to take some time off to sort out his life. Like everyone else, including his mother-in-law (Kathy Bates), Wilson has no idea what led his wife to her drastic decision. He launches on a torturous , self-destructive voyage towards something approaching comprehension. Carrying around her final letter to him, which he cannot bring himself to read, Wilson finally takes solace in a kind of self-induces oblivion: he starts sniffing gasoline to get high. This habit takes him down strange roads and eventually leads him into the world of model aeroplane hobbyists. While this subculture gives him an excuse to buy and sniff petrol that feeds their small engines, Wilson is also intrigued by the model planes.
Love Liza is a film of understatement and observation powered by Hoffman’s ability to get under the skin of his character. Director Todd Louiso deeps his camera fixed on Hoffman, who reciprocates with a stellar performance of force and vulnerability.
U.S.A., 2002. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 90 mins.

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