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Love Liza is a 2002 American tragicomedy[1] directed by Todd Louiso and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Jack Kehler, Wayne Duvall, Sarah Koskoff and Stephen Tobolowsky.

Love Liza
Love liza.jpg
Movie poster
Directed byTodd Louiso
Produced byRuth Charny
Chris Hanley
Corky O'Hara
Jeffrey Roda
Fernando Sulichin
Written byGordy Hoffman
StarringPhilip Seymour Hoffman
Kathy Bates
Music byJim O'Rourke
CinematographyLisa Rinzler
Edited byAnn Stein
Distributed byColumbia TriStar, Sony Pictures Classics
Release date
  • January 14, 2002 (2002-01-14)
Running time
90 minutes
United States



Wilson Joel's (Philip Seymour Hoffman) wife Liza (Annie Morgan) has, for an unexplained reason, committed suicide. Wilson one night discovers a sealed letter from his wife, which he believes to be her suicide note. In his grief-stricken state and with the added stress of finding the letter, which he cannot bring himself to open and read, he forms an addiction to inhaling gasoline fumes ("huffing").

His mother-in-law Mary Ann (Kathy Bates) tries her best to help Wilson and deal with her own loss at the same time. She becomes increasingly anxious to know the contents of the letter.

In order to hide his addiction from a work colleague named Maura (Sarah Koskoff), he informs her that the petrol smell in his house is from his hobby of flying remote controlled planes. To try to engage an ever-distant Wilson, Maura asks her brother-in-law, Denny (Jack Kehler), a radio control (RC) hobbyist, to visit Wilson. With the knowledge of an impending visit from Denny, Wilson heads down to the local RC hobbyist shop to buy himself a plane where he learns that model planes run on Glow fuel instead of gasoline.

When Maura eventually confesses that she is attracted to Wilson, he runs away from her and begins a road trip to New Orleans. He grows more disoriented as he huffs on the trip, and he stumbles upon an RC competition in Slidell, Louisiana. Wilson goes swimming in the lake, disrupting the RC boat races. Denny greets him on the shore with a towel, and explains to all the upset racers that Wilson just lost his wife to suicide.

Denny drives Wilson back home. Along the way, he encourages Wilson to open Liza's letter, but he is horrified when Wilson wants to do it in front of him. Wilson's addiction grows out of control, and he loses a work opportunity when a client discovers him huffing glow fuel with some neighborhood kids.

After breaking into Mary Ann's house to get pictures of Liza, he finds her alone holding Liza's letter. Wilson returns home with the letter and finally opens it. Liza's final wish is for Wilson to find someone else to love in life, while holding onto her in his heart. After he reads the final words of the letter, "Love, Liza", Wilson strikes a match and burns the letter. The gas fumes in the house ignite his clothes. Wilson peels them off and throws them to the ground, only igniting more fumes on the carpet. In his underwear, Wilson walks out of his burning house.


In Order Of Appearance

Actor Character
Philip Seymour Hoffman Wilson Joel
J.D. Walsh Bern
Jimmy Raskin Pad
Kathy Bates Mary Ann Bankhead
Erika Alexander Brenda
Sarah Koskoff Maura
Mark Hannibal Waiter with Drink
Jim Wise Bland Man
Trace Turville Bland Woman
Wayne Duvall Gas Station Employee
Stephen Tobolowsky Tom Bailey
Kevin Breznahan Jim
Jennifer Keddy Lynne
David Lenthal Hobbytown USA Clerk
Jack Kehler Denny
Pauline Boyd Zoo
Ernest Perry Jr Trucker
Cullen Douglas Cashier at Pancake House
Joanne Pankow Grandma Clerk
Dan Klass (as Dan Klaas) Officer Escort
Chris Ellis Patriot Model Aeronautics Clerk
George Mills Pickup Truck Driver
Julia Lashae Breakfast Woman
Don Hood Good Morning Man
John McConnell High School Principal #1
Terry Loughlin High School Principal #2
Maggie Valentine Girl on Front Porch
Teegan Eley Jenn
Morgan Jarrett Stacy
Daniel Farber Huffer Boy
Kelli Garner Huffer Girl
Shannon Holt Angela Ryan from Bailey Federation
Ann Morgan Liza



Much of the film was shot in Mobile, Alabama.


Jordan Hoffman of Vanity Fair noted the way the film "tackled depression and substance abuse in a dark-as-hell comedy that takes on an additional layer of sadness [after Hoffman's death]".[2] Rex Reed of the New York Observer praised Hoffman's performance, believing that it could have the same kind of impact on his career as Leaving Las Vegas had for Nicolas Cage. However, A. O. Scott of The New York Times stated that Hoffman's "omnipresence is something of a mixed blessing", given that the protagonist is "more a state of feeling than a character".[3]

Love Liza was released in a small number of movie theaters and earned $210,000.[3]


  1. ^ Meyer, Carla. "Tale by two siblings / Hoffman brothers team up in 'Love Liza'". Retrieved 13 February 2019. Gordy says -- but in the meantime, there's "Love Liza," a tragicomedy written by Gordy and starring his brother.
  2. ^ "Philip Seymour Hoffman's Movie Career: A Streak of Genius, Stopped Too Soon". Vanity Fair. February 2, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Pomerance, Murray (October 19, 2011). Shining in Shadows: Movie Stars of the 2000s. Rutgers University Press. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-8135-5216-3.

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