Love Liza

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Director: Todd Louiso.
Screenplay: Gordy Hoffman.
Starring: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Stephen Tobolowsky, Annie Morgan, Kelli Garner.

I own a plane and it runs on gas and I wanna fly the thing right fucking now“.

In the wake of the saddening news yesterday that one of my favourite actors, the marvellous Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away due to a suspected overdose, I thought it fitting to look back at his first leading role where he proved his extensive talents.

Despite him regularly being the support with smaller roles, Hoffman was an actor that always managed to grab my attention with his consistently excellent performances, while the “bigger stars” around him struggled to keep up. Written by his brother Gordy, this was the film that gave him the leading role that helped cement his reputation as one the finest actors of his generation.

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Following his wife’s suicide, computer designer Wilson Joel (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is left with a goodbye note he can’t bring himself to read. In his grief he behaves quite peculiarly and becomes addicted to sniffing gasoline. In order to mask his addiction, he gets involved in flying toy planes so he can feed his habit.

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Sometimes a film comes along that’s not entirely classic stuff but gives an exceptional actor a showcase role and the opportunity to really show what they’re capable of. This is that very film for Hoffman. His performance is simply marvellous, shifting effortlessly from one emotion to another as he conveys the depths of his despair and emotional suffering. This is an actor displaying his full acting range and when his performance was lavished with superlatives, it deserved every one of them. The film itself is not entirely successful and suffers from a lethargic pace and overly pessimistic tone but it benefits from being offbeat and manages to avoid conventions. Despite it’s periodic lulls, it still has touches of brilliance and director Todd Louiso (in his debut) shows that he can confidently craft a solid character study and astute commentary on grief and the differing effects it has on people. The problem with this though, is when you’re sharing a character’s mental and emotional anguish, a 90 minute film can seem longer than it actually is.

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Sitting through a film where the main character is in a constant state of suffering and losing his grip on reality, may not appeal to everyone but if you choose to avoid this, then you would only miss out on an acting masterclass and the perfect reminder of a tremendous talent that we’ll sadly no longer see.

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R.I.P Philip Seymour Hoffman

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29 Responses to “Love Liza”

  1. I’m so sad! I loved him in Doubt and Cold Mountain and MI3 and Before the Devil Knows Your Dead and all the way back to Scent of a Woman. And…and…and…and….

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  2. Wasn’t a fan of his over 10 years ago so I missed this film. Since it’s relevant I’m going to take it in. Good pick.
    Poor Hoffman. To be forever tainted by a seedy demise. I’m guessing he was just excited about getting some comparatively rare smack. Junkies over do things, indeed.

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    • The film isn’t his best Marc but his performance was fantastic and showed that he could carry a film on his own. Not that that was every in any doubt, of course. Such a talent, man. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

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  3. This is such a loss for cinema and fans.

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  4. I haven’t seen this, but you’re converted me. It’s on the list.

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  5. RIP PSH. He will be sorely missed. Such a great actor. I’ve yet to see him in Love Liza.

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  6. This is my favourite PSH performance by far. Not my favourite movie that he is in, but he gives an extraordinary performance in Love Liza. He was ‘our’ guy in Hollywood. We could relate to him while being stunned by his talent. An incredible loss to cinema ans to theatre.

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    • I have many favourites but this is definitely up there with the best.
      I couldn’t agree more that he felt like “our” man in Hollywood. Such a natural performer and seemingly down to earth person.

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  7. Solid review Mark. Tough news about PSH. As I’ve said elsewhere, I wasn’t always a fan of his movies but he always gave good performances. Such a sad end to his life.

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  8. It’s sad to see Hoffman pass away. He’s one of my favorites as well and always gave great performances.

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  9. Lovely post Mark. Time will certainly reveal just what a loss Hoffman will be.

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    • Cheers Mark. I reckon people are already feeling the loss and that a whole number of magnificent performances will, sadly, be no more. A true loss, man. Real shitty news!:(

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  10. Great post man. Not a film I’m familiar with in all honesty but I think I speak for a lot of people when I say i’ll be checking out more of Hoffman’s stuff now.

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  11. Never heard of this one Mark. Sounds like I should be giving this a gander.

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  12. Excellent review Mark. I don’t think I ever saw this one, should definitely get on it!

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  13. Very nicely said man, I actually have never heard of this, but if it is Hoffman’s break-out lead, then it deserves my attention. After his passing, I feel though that this film might take on an extra layer of sadness, but I will bring myself to this at some point.

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  14. I’ve never even heard of this! It sounds interesting… : )

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