Cinema Signal:

Passage Through Grief:
A Pastor Comes to Terms With His Wife's Suicide
by Robert Dyksta

. "Love Liza"

I'm not unsympathetic to the plights of actors. And, I can understand when an actor who has gotten good reviews for all his supporting roles is able to promote a project with him as a leading man. I can even sympathize when it's the actor's brother (Gordy) who writes the screenplay. So, I have nothing against "Love Liza".

Perhaps the problem I had with this film is that Philip Seymour Hoffman ("Boogie Nights", "The Talented Mr. Ripley") doesn't muster up the engaging sympathy of a leading man for me. True, his comedic tendencies which, so often come as forced, are here suppressed by the ultra serious subject of dealing with the loss of a wife who committed suicide.

Wilson Joel (Hoffman) built his life around her. He is a man whose sanity seems to have been totally dependent on her. With her gone, he is without anchor or meaning, despite the fact that he's an in-demand web designer. His attempts to deal with his loss lead him to extreme depression bordering on insanity and incoherence, to ill-adopting the hobby of model airplanes, to sniffing gasoline, to a rejection of all those who seem to be trying to help.

Hoffman indeed seems to be plumbing the deepest recesses of his acting skills in the service of this paeon to dysfunctional escape from mourning. Without a little relief from the emotional badgering of it all, it left me with the same feeling of wanting to escape.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman, having a troublesome time.

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