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. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
I saw this film at the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival. This is the feature directorial debut of actor Todd Louiso (and yes, he talks and acts exactly like his character in High Fidelity). Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Wilson Joel, a man whose wife has committed suicide before the film begins. We follow Wilson as he tries to carry on, unable to open the suicide note she left for him, becoming addicted to sniffing gasoline fumes, and trying to make friends among radio-control car/boat/plane enthusiasts. If it sounds a bit wacky, it is. It's also beautiful and very very sad. Hoffman is a genius at playing lovable sad sacks, and he's even better than usual here, carrying the entire picture on his slumped shoulders. The wonderful Jack Kehler (who played the artistic superintendent in The Big Lebowski) provides excellent comic relief. Philip's brother Gordy Hoffman wrote the screenplay, and the film took four years to get made. Obviously a labour of love. A gorgeous melancholy soundtrack from Jim O'Rourke adds immeasurably to an already powerful film.
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