Love Liza (2002) - Rotten Tomatoes

Love Liza (2002)



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

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.more
Rating: R (for drug use, language and brief nudity)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Gordy Hoffman
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 27, 2003
Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site


Kathy Bates
as Mary Ann Bankhead
Sarah Koskoff
as Maura Haas
Terry Loughlin
as High School Principa...
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 Woma...
Ernest Perry Jr.
as Concerned Trucker
Cullen Douglas
as Nasty Pancake House ...
Joanne Pankow
as Grandma Clerk
Dan Klaas
as Escort Out of Town O...
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
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Love Liza

Critic Reviews for Love Liza

All Critics (95) | Top Critics (30)

Largely this sad story is handled with a morbidity and monotony that go nowhere -- certainly not toward understanding.

Full Review… | March 7, 2003
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic

This is a film that succeeds on the strength of its acting, which is uniformly brilliant.

March 7, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

A showcase for an actor's actor rather than as a drama that engages our hearts.

February 27, 2003
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

A bleak little film, bold and well-intentioned in its unrelenting gaze on sorrow, but it never involves your emotions.

Full Review… | February 27, 2003
Miami Herald
Top Critic

The script isn't very good; not even someone as gifted as Hoffman (the actor) can make it work.

Full Review… | February 27, 2003
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

By turns whimsical and disturbing, Love Liza is anchored by Philip Seymour Hoffman's persuasive performance.

February 22, 2003
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Love Liza


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 Walker

Super Reviewer


Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler

DIRECTED BY: Todd Louiso

Following the unexplained suicide of his wife Liza, website designer Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman) turns to gasoline fumes and remote control gaming while avoiding an inevitable conflict with his mother-in-law (Kathy Bates).

Oh what a sad, depressing movie that was brilliantly done by Hoffman. Just so raw and honest. The more movies I see with Hoffman the more I love him. He is amazing. Kathy Bates is amazing she needs no praising. Just the two of them in this film were great. You feel so bad for his character and the downward spiral he is going down. Although it's a bit slow, the performances you get is well worth it.


Super Reviewer


It's interesting that I watched this movie right after Away From Her. Whereas the latter film explored heavy emotions like loss evenly and with purpose, Love Liza's interest seems to be dragging you through the mud for an hour and a half with little to offer for it. It has its poignant moments but begins to get really irritating; about ten minutes from the end of the film, I actually asked myself out loud "How much longer do I have to deal with this guy?"

For this film to bill itself "a comic tragedy" and "surprisingly funny" is complete bullshit. I laughed once. The supposed "humor" is entirely at Philip Seymour Hoffman's expense and just makes the entire movie even more awkward and depressing. Really, this movie is a mess; the only redeeming qualities are getting to experience those scattered touching moments and Hoffman's brilliant (of course) performance. Even his acting gets a little wearying by the end of the movie, though it probably has to do with the character.

If someone's wife commits suicide and I spend more of the movie being bothered by them instead of feeling sorry for them, then I would say that it was probably a failure.

Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

Love Liza Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Love Liza on our Movie forum!