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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 3.85%
Pretty Bad: 34.62%
Total Crap: 3.85%

3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Love Liza
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by Natasha Theobald

"Is this love?"
2 stars

I tried to get into this movie. I really did. I'm a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman. I find Todd Louiso an interesting presence and looked forward to seeing what he would do as a director. I know Hoffman's brother, Gordy, wrote the thing. I wanted to feel it. I just...didn't.

Wilson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) has just lost his wife. She killed herself in their garage by inhaling car exhaust. This has left his life devastated, as well as that of her mother (Kathy Bates). Some light is missing, and no amount of looking for it can make it come back.

Wilson's newly lonely life is populated by various people, mostly work acquaintances and their satellites. He invents himself for the person he is with, not knowing quite who or what he is anymore. He drifts, aimless and hopeless, through the numbness of days falling one after another, relentless. His life weighs on him like a fog, and rather than trying to make it lift, he delves into it further, anesthetizing himself, falling, spiraling, into the dream-state of non-committal being. While this may be interesting as a psychological study, even Hoffman can't make it very interesting to watch. It's uncomfortable and unsettling, which is fine, but it's also sort of boring and dry, making getting through the film seem a bit of a chore.

The character gives Hoffman some interesting work. Some things about the movie really bothered me, though. Wilson takes to inhaling gasoline, which is interestingly connected to his wife's death in two ways. First, it is very basically car-related. Second, it is a direct connection in that I understand inhaling gas fumes to be pre-suicidal behavior. I can grasp it, I guess, but it is so far from my own experience that I have trouble buying it. It gives Hoffman something interesting to do and play, but it doesn't give the audience anything firm to hold onto. I know that different people grieve differently. I get that reactions to events are as varied as people themselves. The thing is, I know something about losing someone like this, and I felt a little betrayed by the movie. It's not because it made the grieving person look bad or seem weak. I guess my quarrel would be with writing this as a mere exercise, an imagining. I desperately wanted it to ring true to me in some way, to my experience, and it didn't -- not at all. It's okay, I guess, if it's just that another person's experience was this different. But, if this was written for an actor's exercise and not as a search for truth or meaning, some understanding, I feel, as a viewer, bereft.

One of the best parts of the film includes the note left by his wife for Wilson. He finds it and carries it, unable to open or read it. There is something so daunting about last words. Even people who write, who strive to express themselves with language, would be hard pressed to know what words could say goodbye. This seemed meaningful, his inability to open the letter and accept goodbye.

I went into watching this knowing it might make me sad. What I didn't expect was the more disappointing response, feeling empty and numb, feeling nothing at all.

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originally posted: 12/08/04 06:06:55
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Brisbane Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Brisbane Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/10/08 Allan Wagenheim Watching this was a dreadful chore, like doing penance. 2 stars
12/06/04 Natasha Theobald I couldn't get with this one, as much as I wanted to 2 stars
8/22/04 Peter James A shame that the movie is not as good as Hoffman's brilliant performance 3 stars
3/05/04 Goofy Maxwell dear mourner, be honest w/ yourself. love, liza 3 stars
10/30/03 Jinnvisible voyeuristic ,charming, bitter 4 stars
6/12/03 Jack Sommersby Well-acted, but I agree that it's pointless, and also self-indulgent. 2 stars
1/03/03 Stacy terrible. boring, depressing and pointless 1 stars
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  30-Dec-2002 (R)



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