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.

Director:

Todd Louiso

Writer:

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

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

A Comic Tragedy

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hoffman plays Wilson Joel, a tech-head whose wife has recently committed suicide, although it takes us a while to figure that out. He presents a facade of conviviality in the office, sometimes punctuated by outbursts of laughter that go on too long, like choked grief. His home seems frozen in a state of mid-unpacking, and he sleeps on the floor. Eventually he stops going in to work altogether. - Roger Ebert See more »

Quotes

Wilson Joel: Do you have the yellow pages?
Cashier at Pancake House: Customer copy out of the phone book.
Wilson Joel: It's all torn to shreds.
Cashier at Pancake House: I apologize, but that's our customer copy.
Wilson Joel: Can I use your copy?
Cashier at Pancake House: Sorry, convenient store next door might have one.
Wilson Joel: But, you have one.
Cashier at Pancake House: Sir, I'm sorry. Try next door.
Wilson Joel: I just got finished eating your bad pancakes and got my plane stolen out of my car in your parking lot.
Cashier at Pancake House: Want me to call the police? I can call the police.
[...]
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Film Geek (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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
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User Reviews

a searing study of grief
17 August 2003 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

Philip Seymour Hoffman has made a career out of playing deeply depressed characters. In `Love Liza,' he has found what might well be his most perfectly suited role to date, that of a young man trying to come to terms with the suicide of his wife.

Written by Gordy Hoffman and directed by Todd Louiso, `Love Liza' is a searing study of grief, one that chronicles the many stages a man goes through in coping with this type of tragedy. Wilson first finds himself unable to sleep in the same bed he used to share with his wife. Then he returns to the place where they spent their honeymoon in a vain attempt to find some solace or answers there. Then there's the turn towards self-destruction as he seeks escape from his pain by inhaling mass quantities of gasoline. All along the way, well-meaning friends, colleagues and family members proffer what they can in the way of support and sympathy but, invariably, they find themselves ill-equipped to deal with grief at this level of intensity. This is even the case with Mary Ann, Wilson's understanding mother-in-law, who is having to cope with her son-in-law's dysfunction while also dealing with her own grief at the loss of her daughter.

The title of the film comes from a signed suicide note Liza left to Wilson under his pillow. That letter, which Wilson cannot bring himself to open, only adds to the man's despair, for he fears it may reveal that he was somehow responsible for his wife's actions. Thus, wracked with guilt as well as grief, Wilson slides ever further into that deep dark hole of despair. The filmmakers, in an effort to mitigate some of the misery inherent in the subject matter, invest the story with a number of sly, quirky touches, such as Wilson's sudden obsession with mechanized toy airplanes. But the overwhelming sadness is never far from the film's surface.

`Love Liza' is, at its core, an actor's film – and the cast proves itself worthy of the challenge. Hoffman's portrait of a man whose entire meaning for existence has been knocked out from under him is devastating in its understatement and power. Kathy Bates turns in an equally fine and subdued performance as his grieving mother-in-law, and Sarah Koskoff and Jack Kehler offer fine support.

Is `Love Liza' a `dark' film? Absolutely. But it is also a brave, insightful and compelling one for those willing to enter its world. It may not be easy to watch, but it is probably harder not to.


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Details

Country:

France | Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 January 2003 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Love Liza See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$15,522, 5 January 2003

Gross USA:

$213,137

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$223,426
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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