Opens Fri March 28
If there is one thing I can say about Love Liza, it is that it's certainly one of the most unexpected films I've seen in a long time. Previous to seeing it, the movie was described to me as a story about a man whose wife kills herself. She leaves a suicide note, but the man is too sad to open it, and we see him cope with his loss and his inability to read the note.
Okay, that is what it's about, but one of the distressed husband's main methods of coping with his wife's death is to huff gas. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the borderline-crazy husband, Will, and does a really good job. I definitely believed he was fucked up, especially when he was huffing down his fifth and sixth containers of gas, and mixing up his huff-athon with different kinds of gas--remote control airplane fuel, for example.
Another odd twist comes when, in order to cover up his huffing (because he always smells like gas), Will pretends he's into flying remote control airplanes. His faux hobby, randomly enough, causes him to make a friend who is into racing remote control boats. The relationship he has with this friend (Jack Kehler) provides most of the film's humor, and makes up the movie's most touching and compelling footage.
The insane premise makes Love Liza worth watching, but because you have no idea why Will's wife killed herself, or what she was like, or what he was like before the death, you don't really care about what's in her famed suicide note. You also don't care very much about what happens to Will, besides wishing that he would stop huffing so much damn gas. (Your après-film discussions will go something like this: "Man, you think he'd be brain dead after all that gas." Or: "That was pretty unrealistic; I definitely think the gas would have burned through the skin on his face.") And the end of the film well, that's pretty ridiculous too, but I guess I should have expected it. As a whole, Love Liza doesn't spark an abundance of emotion, and provides a lot of discomfort without much of a reward.