Love Liza

2002

Love Liza

Critics Consensus

Hoffman's performance is strong, but the lack of character development and story arc makes Love Liza unsatisfying.

53%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 85

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,122
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Movie Info

Wilson Joel is a man in trouble. There's a searing pain in his gut that he can't tolerate and a dazed quietness to his struggle as he tries to maintain his equilibrium. Wilson is attempting to move on from the sudden and inexplicable suicide of his wife. His mother-in-law is there for him, but her sympathies turn quickly. He has an employer that seems to want to help him, and a workmate who wants him for herself. But nothing and no one can give Wilson solace; so, he seeks oblivion. It is not the usual alcohol or drugs. Wilson inhales fumes from gasoline cans and model airplane fuel and finds temporary salvation in the company of remote-control model enthusiasts. However, nothing that provides him relief really lasts.

Cast

Kathy Bates
as Mary Ann Bankhead
Sarah Koskoff
as Maura Haas
Terry Loughlin
as High School Principal #2
Ann Morgan
as Liza Joel
Shannon Holt
as Angela Ryan
Jim Wise
as Bland Man
Trace Turville
as Bland Woman
Mark Hannibal
as Waiter With Drink
David Lenthal
as Hobbytown USA Clerk
Wayne Duvall
as Gas Station Cashier
Pauline Boyd
as Zoo Information Woman
Ernest Perry Jr.
as Concerned Trucker
Cullen Douglas
as Nasty Pancake House Cashier
Joanne Pankow
as Grandma Clerk
Dan Klaas
as Escort Out of Town Officer
Chris Ellis
as Patriot Hobby
George Mills
as Pickup Truck Driver
Julia LaShae
as Breakfast Woman
Terry O'Deen
as Parking Lot Date
Don Hood
as Good Morning Man
View All

Critic Reviews for Love Liza

All Critics (85) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (40)

Audience Reviews for Love Liza

  • Sep 14, 2013
    As illustrious as Philip Seymour Hoffman's career has become, Love Liza perhaps offers a hidden gem in his laudable career. In it he plays a distraught widower, whose wife killed herself for seemingly unknown reasons. This propels him on a strange journey involving gasoline and remote controlled airplanes. It's an undeniably indie film, unconventional in many respects, and effective on an emotional level. Its narrative arc, however, leaves something to be desired. Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance is certainly the most notable aspect of the film, making it worth watching for its shear depth and power alone. He embodies the manic personality perfectly, sometimes deliriously upbeat, other times helplessly distraught and confused. This is what the film gets right, a loss such as what Hoffman's character experienced is not easily gotten over, and does not offer happy endings or easy answers. Life can be confusing, inexplicable, and harsh, Love Liza captures this with a mature sense surpassing many similarly themed films. The problem with Love Liza, however, is that its script, smart in its characterizations, doesn't pay off in a narrative sense. The relationship between Hoffman and his wife is never fully explored, with no sense of resolution to be had, which can work, but only if we can more aptly identify with the dynamics at work. The film offers interesting characters, but raises more questions than it answers, leaving the film in a bit of a meandering spot. An overall effective drama, notable for its strong central performance. 3.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    "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.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Sep 10, 2011
    Wilson is upset. He's disheveled, confused, and angry. It's all in direct correlation with his wife's suicide. He's not really angry at anybody or anything; just angry. Maybe at the world. Love Liza is slow-moving, confusing, and plotless, but it's something that you won't find all that often; genuine. It's had a considerable amount of time put into it, and while it isn't utterly perfect, it's honest and relatable to anyone whose experienced a loss in their life. Most of all, Love Liza is anchored by a strong central performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman. He's always good at playing an emotionally strained character and here he does not disappoint. It's great to hear him yell.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2011
    Despite him regularly being the support with smaller roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman was an actor that always grabbed my attention with his consistently excellent performances, while the bigger 'stars' around him struggled to keep up. This was the film that gave Hoffman a rare lead role, helping him cement his reputation as one the finest actors of his generation. Following his wife's suicide, computer designer Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is left with a goodbye note he cannot bring himself to read. His grief takes a peculiar turn when he becomes addicted to sniffing gasoline and becomes involved in flying toy planes just to feed his petrol habit. Sometimes a film comes along that's not entirely classic stuff but gives an exceptional actor a showcase role and a chance to show what they can do. This is that very film for Hoffman. His performance is marvellous, shifting effortlessly from one emotion to another as he conveys the depths of his despair and emotional suffering. This is an actor displaying his full acting range and when his performance was lavished with superlatives, it deserved every one of them. The film itself is an offbeat little drama, that doesn't follow the conventions of it type. It has touches of brilliance and director Todd Louiso (in his debut) shows that he can confidently craft a good character study. The supporting roles are also well played by the ever-reliable Kathy Bates as Wilson's mother-in-law and especially Jack Kehler as Wilson's childlike friend Denny - who all but reprises his small role of The Dude's landlord in the "The Big Lebowski". The problem with the film though, is the pace. It's only 90mins long but feels longer somehow, as sharing a character's mental and emotional anguish isn't good for the time flying. If sitting through a film where the main character is in a constant state of suffering and losing his grip on reality, doesn't appeal to you then avoid this, but by avoiding you would only miss out on an acting masterclass.
    Mark W Super Reviewer

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