There are a select few movies that are geared to a particular audience. Movies that the casual observer might find slow, plodding and boring. This movie reminds me a good deal of Pfeiffers Deep End Of The Ocean, another movie geared to a particular audience, or A Walk To Remember & Message In A Bottle.
These are movies that deal with human emotion and loss. Not all viewers, in fact probably most viewers today, want to invest their time in human emotions. Most prefer movies to be an outlet more along the endorphin level, something that gives you a rush, a high. Action that involves the audience and helps them remove themselves from the mainstream they paddle down each boring day of their lives.
Human emotion movies will never do this because they require, they demand, that you invest more than a bag of popcorn and large soft drink. This doesnt mean they are better or that one is heartless because they dont enjoy them. It simply means they are geared to a certain audience, a select few that can identify with the story and character being portrayed.
Each of the three movies I mentioned above dealt with a loss and how the people involved coped with that loss. Love, Liza falls under this category.
The Loss We do not see Liza, only hear of her, except for a short drug induced dream sequence. Liza was apparently a young, beautiful woman married to Wilson. Wilson is a plodding sort, a computer-driven nerd that sits in a cubicle all day and designs graphics for aeronautical purposes. One day his beautiful wife killed herself. This was before the movie began, we see no reference to it and no bloody aftermath.
The Mask On the outside Wilson appears as before at work. His input is on target, he interacts with fellow employees, he seems normal. Sometimes, though, you notice that edge - a laugh that continues long after others stop, stares into space, blank looks. But for the most part, his mask is firmly in place, dont want to make anyone uncomfortable you know.
The Wall The one person that can identify with Wilsons pain is Lizas mother, Mary Ann. However, Wilson doesnt want that intrusion and often is rude and short with Mary Ann. Several things happen at once to change his life even further.
Action & Reaction ~ He cant sleep in their bed any longer, but finds a safe place on the floor outside the bedroom door. ~ His boss, a pretty young woman named Maura, has taken a shine to him both personally and corporately. She introduces him to her brother-in-law Denny, a model junky and also to some 3-piece suit that wants Wilson to do some special graphic designs for him. ~ He finds The Letter under his bed pillow that his wife left him before her suicide. ~ He discovers, although I personally think he had this addiction before, the fine art of gasoline snuffing.
Consequences Because of the actions he has taken his life goes completely out of control. He continues to avoid The Letter, refusing to read the words Liza penned before she died. The walls surrounding Wilson grow even higher and thicker as he isolates himself even further from helping hands. Wilson is on a fast moving spiral to Hell and like a true addict, he refuses to see it happening.
Conclusion Love, Liza will only touch someone that has had a true loss. Much like the other movies I mentioned, it is geared to those people that drag themselves from bed each morning and stare into the mirror, wondering why they are still alive. These movies deal with death but more importantly, they deal with living, the going on, the facing each day alone part of living that only someone that has faced separation through death can understand.
"Death," to quote Michael Keaton from My Life, "is a Hell of a way to learn about living."
Love, Liza will not appeal to approximately 99% of the people that watch it, most will find it trite and boring. But that 1% knows exactly what Im talking about, and this movie is for them. They know, they understand, they empathize.
It was directed by Todd Louiso and written by Gordy Hoffman. It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as Wilson, Kathy Bates as Mary Ann and Sarah Koskoff as Maura.
It goes without saying that Hoffman was by far the best choice for this movie. He is a person that most of us can identify with - no flashy looks, no million dollar smile, no fancy suits & perfect hair - just a human like us. Bates plays one of her 'guts' characters in this movie - all up front and no nonsense, yet hidden away at the same time. A gutsy part, it could have been more in your face but that would have taken away from the story.
It's a pyramid story - a story inside a story inside a story inside a story. Best of all, none of them are hidden.
Gordy Hoffman won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award from the Sundance Film Festival and Todd Louiso was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize from Sundance. The movie was filmed in Mobile, Alabama, no great shakes on the scenery but it was about the players anyway, not the whiz-bang effects.
Most of the music was written and performed by Jim ORourke and I really liked it. More like soulful 60's music, great story songs. My favorite was probably Through The Night Softly written & performed by ORourke. Kinda Croce sound to it.