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Love Liza

Falling asleep in the theater

Sometimes quiet sleeper movies are just that - they make you want to curl up and take a nice snooze. While the film Love Liza has its moments, it is by and large an unremarkable story plodding towards inevitable disaster.
The centerpiece of the movie is actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's performance as Wilson, an awkward web designer unsuccessfully coping with the recent suicide of his wife. He takes her means of choice - carbon monoxide poisoning - and develops an unhealthy addiction to help ease his suffering. He and his belligerent mother-in-law, played by Kathy Bates, have a love-hate relationship that ventures into co-dependency, his co-workers think he's about to go postal, and a couple of neighborhood junkies start following him around. Added to this sad state of affairs is Denny (Jack Kehler), a radio-controlled machines fanatic who becomes Wilson's unlikely sidekick.
Hoffman is one of the most talented, versatile working actors out there. He's practically has cornered the market on socially inept characters. He brings an uneasy emotional intensity to every one of his films; it's about time he broke free from his supporting actor slots and got a leading role. In one of the greatest scenes in the film, Wilson jumps into a lake while a radio control speed boats race is taking place. When the angry and shocked participants scream at him, he responds, "Do you know who I am? I am a big fan of radio-control!" Hoffman delivers the line with flair.

Though Kathy Bates is a great actor, she does not shine here - except for one scene in which she tells off Wilson's boss (Sarah Koskoff).
While writer Gordy Hoffman (brother of Philip Seymour Hoffman) inserts moments of understated humor and satire into the script, director Todd Louiso mellows everything out so much so that you feel as if you're on the same stuff Wilson has been inhaling. Louiso may have rocked the mike as "Dick" in High Fidelity, but he has missed the boat here; he took very compelling material, stirring actors, and somehow made it all very boring.


Love Liza
Rated R
1 hour 33 minutes

Philip Seymour Hoffman
Kathy Bates
Jack Kehler
Erika Alexander
Sarah Koskoff