Love Liza (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Philip Seymour Hoffman stars in this tailor-made vehicle (his brother wrote the script) about a broken man descending into uncontrolled despair and substance abuse after the suicide of his wife.

The dramatic tension in the film rests on whether he will read a suicide note that his wife left behind, and if so, what it will say. He can't face it, for fear it will somehow weigh him down with some responsibility for her suicide. To avoid the pain and the letter, he distorts the world by sniffing gas fumes. In order to hide his gas-sniffing, he has to resort to an elaborate series of lies, which eventually leads him into a bizarre road trip involving model boats and airplanes. This elaborate con creates some - I don't know - black comedy I guess.


Ann Morgan, as Liza, is seen totally naked in a flashback scene

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1.

  • Full-length commentary by the director, writer, and star

Hoffman is pretty much perfect in the role, but the film is so-o-o-o slow, and I'm not sure if quirky character actors are meant to be on screen for an entire film, twitching and just generally being tragic. A great deal of the running time consists of Hoffman alone on screen with no dialogue, lost in his despair and his gasoline haze. Be advised that it really shows nothing much about who Hoffman really was before the suicide, or even why the suicide happened. It simply chronicles the aftermath. You won't like it if you don't like films which wallow in depression. It's also quite repetitious, running over the same ground and the same behavior with the same mannerisms again and again.

I saw elements to admire in this movie, but nothing to like, and I won't ever watch it again.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: about two and a half or three stars. Ebert 3/4, Film Threat 2/5, BBC 4/5

  • The film won the Best Screenplay award at Sundance 2002.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed only $211,000, never reaching more than 10 screens.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C as an arthouse study of despair which includes elements of extremely dark comedy. It spins a lot of wheels to make the point that suicide and substance abuse really suck. Who would have dreamed?

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