Love Liza (2002)
Directed by Todd Louiso
Written by Gordy Hoffman

What appears to be a film about a man coping with his wife's sudden suicide turns out to be mostly about his addiction to huffing gasoline. This would make for a well-above-average afterschool special, but for a feature film, the subject matter is kind of esoteric. I could relate to the grief and denial, having lost my husband suddenly during a tangle with a tasmanian devil (and by the way, they are nothing like that fucking cartoon character), but so much focus was placed on the huffing that you instinctively start to tune out.

Philip Seymour Hoffman spends nearly the entire film not reading his wife's suicide note, instead letting his life fall completely apart as he tries to blot out the pain. He's brutally excellent, as he always is, but the film is so oppressively morose and unpleasant that after awhile I was considering getting into huffing myself, just to escape. Solidly directed by Todd Louiso (of "Phenom" and, oh yeah, High Fidelity), Love Liza stays true to its subject, but in the process, alienates everyone else.

There were some attempts at comic relief that were enormously sour, and Kathy Bates's entire involvement seems to have been shot in a day and cropped into the film for some kind of marquee value. I content myself with the somewhat amusing idea that someone made the mistake of taking a first date to see this movie in the theatre.

Review by Jessica Stripps