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Love Liza

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
Love Liza
from Film Forum, 04/17/03

Hoffman Takes the Lead in Love Liza
Phillip Seymour Hoffman has appeared in four films this last year, including Punch-drunk Love and Red Dragon, and he is scheduled to appear in at least four films during 2003. He is earning widespread critical acclaim and is quickly becoming a character actor that every major director wants to employ.

He has his first notable lead role in Love Liza, a melancholy drama written by his brother, Gordy Hoffman. Their friend Todd Louiso directs this story of a widower struggling to cope with his wife's shocking suicide. Torn by anger and guilt, he is terrified to read the letter that she left under his pillow. He develops the foolish numbing habit of sniffing gasoline, in spite of others' attempts to encourage and help him.

Movieguide's critic says, "Hoffman … makes Love Liza a captivating character study of a man on the edge of self-destruction. The end of the story is moral, up to a point, in that viewers may learn that hanging onto grief, anger, self-pity, and self-loathing can lead to dangerous addictions that may destroy not only you, but also the things you love. Regrettably, however, [the film] offers no positive spiritual answers."

Gerri Pare (Catholic News Service) says, "The actor is affecting as the devastated widower numbed by the shock and unwilling to just get on with life. However, the film is flawed in focusing solely on his character's misery without giving viewers any idea about the past life of the husband and wife. It's like watching a relationship story in a vacuum. As we know no more about him at the film's deliberately ambiguous conclusion, or the reason for his wife's death, the movie is ultimately unsatisfying and has scant emotional resonance."