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.