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LOVE LIZA

USA, 2001 (MIFF 2003, International Panorama)

Director: Todd Louiso

Winner of Best Screenplay at Sundance Film Festival, Love Liza is a curious but unforgettable animal, somewhere between Todd Solondz's Happiness and Terry Zwigoff's Ghost World. Philip Seymour Hoffman almost reprises the role he played in Happiness, this time substituting desperate, antisocial sexual fantasies for an out of control petrol-sniffing habit.

Wilson Joel (Hoffman), an in-demand, highly paid technician, is confounded, paralysed with grief and sabotaging his own promising career. The unexpected suicide of his wife puts his psyche into meltdown. He cannot bring himself to open her final letter to him, terrified by what it may, or may not contain. Joel almost accidentally begins experimenting with petrol-sniffing, something he knows is associated with adolescents and the disenfranchised. His downward spiral is rapid and results in moments of pathos (begging a service station attendant for 'model aeroplane fuel') that are simultaneously heart-rending, pitiful and ludicrous. Plaintive score by Sonic Youth's Jim O'Rourke.

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