Following the unexplained suicide of his wife Liza, a web designer turns to gasoline fumes and remote-control airplanes while avoiding an inevitable conflict with his mother-in-law.


Todd Louiso


Gordy Hoffman (screenplay)
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Philip Seymour Hoffman ... Wilson Joel
J.D. Walsh ... Bern (as JD Walsh)
Jimmy Raskin Jimmy Raskin ... Pad
Kathy Bates ... Mary Ann Bankhead
Erika Alexander ... Brenda
Sarah Koskoff ... Maura
Mark Hannibal Mark Hannibal ... Waiter with Drink
Jim Wise ... Bland Man
Trace Turville Trace Turville ... Bland Woman
Wayne Duvall ... Gas Station
Stephen Tobolowsky ... Tom Bailey
Kevin Breznahan ... Jim
Jennifer Keddy Jennifer Keddy ... Lynne
David Lenthall David Lenthall ... Hobbytown USA Clerk (as David Lenthal)
Jack Kehler ... Denny


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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Comic Tragedy


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for drug use, language and brief nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


There are two scenes when Wilson (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is trying to get into his mother-in-law's (Kathy Bates) house, he is screaming and rattling the bars on the outside of the house, as if he is imprisoned. This represents the cage of grief, how inescapable grief is. See more »


Mary Ann Bankhead: [Finding Wilson sleeping on the floor] Why aren't you on the couch?
Wilson Joel: Because I like it here.
Mary Ann Bankhead: The floor can't make you feel better.
Wilson Joel: I don't know... I don't know.
Mary Ann Bankhead: You wanna be near the bedroom?
Wilson Joel: Look, Mary Ann, I found a place to sleep, that's all. I know it's a stupid place, but it's the place I found. Okay? Okay.
See more »

Crazy Credits

SPECIAL THANKS TO Melissa Morgan's Parents and Family See more »


Referenced in High Chaparall: Robert Englund (2004) See more »


Corpus Christi Carol
Written by Benjamin Britten
Performed by Jeff Buckley
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Benjamin Britten Corpus Christi Carol © 1961 by the Britten Estate Limited
All publishing rights exercised worldwide by Oxford Univesity Press
Used by Permission
All Rights Reserved
See more »

User Reviews

Showcasing Hoffman
2 June 2003 | by essentSee all my reviews

I call Philip Seymour Hoffman my favorite actor, so of course when I found a movie where he is the center of attention (not usually the case) I felt obligated to see it. His older brother wrote the screenplay, no doubt with Philip in mind for the part.

To tell you the truth, the overall feel of the movie wasn't so great. I'm sure that Hoffman played the character well, but we only get to see this character in this very strange part of his life. There's no context to judge how much of his behavior is situational. He seems to be cracking up, laughing at the office in a way that makes the others leave the area, and generally behaving in a way that shows lack of judgment. We understand that his wife just took her own life, it's revealed early on in the film, so we understand why he is behaving the way he is, we just don't know what he's normally like. I enjoyed Jack Kehler's character. He seems to be the kind of person you'd like to avoid talking to more than just briefly, but it makes sense that he gets on well with Hoffman's character during his time of turmoil. There were some things they chose to put in the movie (like his glass falling over at the beach, the flowers falling over at the cemetery, and the glove compartment not shutting) that felt like they would happen in real life - like real life metaphors, and I appreciated that element. I thought the gas huffing was a little strange until I read that there was a definite connection to the way his wife died. It's a tricky film to judge. It's hard to empathize with character because he's just so outside the norm, but it's easy not to judge him because it's hard to imagine anything much worse happening to a person.

If you really like Philip Seymour Hoffman I would tell you to go ahead and rent the film, I would at the same time tell you to keep your expectations lowered.

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France | Germany | USA



Release Date:

31 January 2003 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Love Liza See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,522, 5 January 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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