December 30, 2002
This quirky little film won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and was picked up by Sony Classics for distribution, probably as Oscar® bait. Set in Middle America, the script is penned by Gordy Hoffman, older brother of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the more unique actors in the business today. Love Liza is a bit of a family affair as Philip takes on the lead role, and from all reports and reviews available thus far, he’s spectacular.
Directed by Todd Louiso (some movie fans might recognize him as the eccentric “Dick” from High Fidelity), the film is a sad but darkly humorous tale about a Web site designer who tries to make sense of his wife’s unexplained suicide. Wilson Joel finds himself unable to open the suicide letter that his wife has left and turns to his mother-in-law (played by Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates) for support and guidance, but the letter itself becomes a source of conflict between the two, and the tension causes substantially more disruption.
Despondent and depressed, Wilson attempts a different escape. Rather than get heavily into drugs or alcohol, he starts inhaling gasoline fumes and model airplane fuel, which helps him to find temporary relief from the burdens of the outside world when he befriends some remote control model enthusiasts. Alas, this peace is fleeting, and he descends into a downward spiral that leads to a shocking conclusion.
Depending how the film does in the year-end awards, it’s entirely possible that it may see a platform release to a decent number of venues. Love Liza is a film with definite early positive buzz and anyone who watched the Sundance Festival awards ceremony knows how special it was for the two Hoffman brothers to work together on this project. Fans of independent film will likely be anticipating this particular film pretty heavily. (Kim Hollis/BOP)