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Love Liza

Review Written by: Will Penley
Film: F
What the MPAA Rating should be: PG-13 (for language and brief nudity)

Directed by: Todd Louiso
Written by: Gordy Hoffman
Produced by: Ruth Chaney, Chris Hanley, Corky O'Hara, Jeffrey Roda and Fernando Sulichin
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, J.D. Walsh, Jimmy Raskin, Stephen Tobolowsky
Studio: Studio Canal

I am simply in awe at how bad this film is. Love Liza is honestly one of the most ridiculous, contrived pieces of cinema I've ever seen in my life. I advise all of you to save yourselves ninety minutes and avoid this like a sickness. Love Liza finds Philip Seymour Hoffman as successful web designer Wilson Joel, whose wife Liza has just committed suicide. She left Wilson a suicide note, but he has absolutely no desire to open the envelope and read it, much to the annoyance of his mother-in-law Mary (Kathy Bates), who is constantly badgering him to finally read it. Depressed and with no desire to do his job, Wilson tries to find solace in getting high by sniffing gasoline fumes. When people start to notice his odd behavior, he starts buying and racing gasoline-powered, remote-controlled planes and boats as an excuse for all the gasoline around his house. Meanwhile, his mother-in-law robs his house as some form of revenge for not opening the letter.

This film has zero story. It's slower than a turtle, and not in that Lost in Translation good way. Not a single second of this horrendous work is able to hold our interests. I can imagine that it originally ran longer than ninety minutes, but it had to be cut down because nobody in their right mind could possibly endure much more of this. We don't care about the characters. Wilson is not portrayed as a sympathetic character and, as the film goes on, we realize that it should have been him who killed himself. Mary comes off as an unstable crazy person, who could care less about what Wilson is going through and is only out for herself.

I'm just glad that Hoffman was able to move on to bigger and better things like the Oscar-winning Capote after this horrid mess. I'll never forget the final shot. At the film's climax, after Wilson finally works up the nerve to read the letter, he sets it on fire and throws it into his gasoline puddles. He then proceeds to rip off all of his clothes and walk out of his burning house. He looks dazed, confused and exasperated after the whole ordeal. When the credits began to roll, I remember feeling the same way. Love Liza is a blight upon the land and should be avoided at all costs. Why Ebert gave this thumbs up I'll never know.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in the much maligned Love Liza.
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