Love Liza - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Love Liza Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ January 4, 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.
Super Reviewer
½ December 29, 2009
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
½ January 16, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
½ September 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
Super Reviewer
September 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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 21, 2007
Philip Seymour Hoffman is truly one of the most skilled actors I've ever seen. This bizarre, funny and extremely tragic character piece is engaging the whole way through, and most of its power is due to the brilliance of Mr. Hoffman. I really, really liked it.
Super Reviewer
November 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.
Super Reviewer
May 28, 2008
Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates are just amazing in this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ February 18, 2007
As intimate a character study as I have ever seen. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is heartbreakingly good in the role of a man whose wife has very recently commited suicide. The film is alternately funny and tragic, but never anything less than absolutely real.

A seriously underrated work.
½ August 23, 2007
Powerfully depressing movie about a man's life beginning to fall apart after his wife's suicide. Very poignant, very awkward. I think people (or at least I) can connect very strongly with PSH's acting, because he plays such a normal dude reacting to emotional situations. I recommend this for the emotion and the acting, but maybe not if you really can't do depressing movies, because this one is up there.
August 25, 2010
One man's strange and unlikely odyssey following the suicide of his wife. Philip Seymour Hoffman is simply amazing in the lead role. A beautiful visual style and wonderful off-kilter storytelling elevate this film above the usual cliched, formulaic hollywood tear-jerkers.

What we are left with is a very real portrait of depression, coping with loss, and how close one may come to "closure".
November 14, 2009
This film just doesn't work, it's too slow moving for one, too weird and it's generally on the stupid side. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates both try and do a good job but it's not enough to save the film.
July 18, 2008
I have to admit, I was a little surprised when I realized that Todd Lousio directed this.

I see Love Liza as one of those simple, rare little delights. Excellent writing, mind blowing acting (of course) from Hoffman, and camera work that I can only describe as "Gentle." There is a beautiful sea-like color palette, and despite having few characters - it is completely engaging and heart breaking.
June 27, 2008
Great character study, carried by Philip Seymor Hoffman, with assistance by Kathy Bates. Forgot how good this was til I caught it again recently.

A man's wife suddenly kills herself, and distraught he in turn begins a self destructive lifestyle o...(read more)f huffing gasoline. In order to explain why he's carrying gas around with him, he lies and says it's for remote controlled air planes. After a gas attendent finally calls him on it, he begins a bender/mental collapse induced mission to find a remote control plane competition. Slow paced, but rewarding, and sincere. Though bleak at times it's one of the most emotionally rich looks at greif, I've ever seen in a film. Or wanted to see, for that matter, because the subject disinterested me from the word go. Anway it's a great thing to be proven wrong sometimes. "I am a BIG FAN of Radio Control"!
March 2, 2008
Hoffman goes with it, creating some fine individual moments, but Louiso doesn't know when to stop with the melodrama.
½ March 5, 2007
Philip Seymour Hoffman was great, but I guess I had higher expectations for the movie. I still enjoyed it for the most part though.
May 29, 2007
Hoffman does a great job in this character study of a man who turns to huffing gas to deal with the death of his wife.

This is the role that should've garnered him the attention that he later found with Capote.
½ March 9, 2007
Justin insisted I see this movie for years, and it was worth it. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is so honest in this, he does an amazing job.
February 18, 2007
A depressing and affecting film about a man struggling to come to terms with his wife's suicide and the lengths he will go to numb his grief.
February 14, 2007
Dark comedy about a guy who huffs gas to console himself after his wife commits suicide actually very funny.
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