Seymour Hoffman tour de force as grieving loner
OPENED JANUARY 31, CERT 18, 90 MINS
Written by Philip Seymour Hoffman’s brother Gordy and directed by Todd Louiso (who you may recall as Jack Black’s sidekick in High Fidelity), this is a quiet little film, serving chiefly to give the more celebrated Philip an overdue leading role. It’s a morose piece, focusing on a grieving young widower, and Hoffman plays it impeccably.
As Joel, a daydreaming website designer, he’s driven to distraction at his wife Liza’s unexplained suicide. He goes potty at work, is given time off, takes to sleeping on the floor. His mother-in-law (Kathy Bates) wants him to open the note Liza left him:he refuses. By default, he acquires a new hobby, building remote-control model airplanes. His other new hobby, sniffing petrol fumes, is less therapeutic. He won’t be able to move on till he opens that note. To its credit, the film doesn’t take the obvious sentimental routes offered. On the other hand, this results in a certain flatness, and Jim O’Rourke’s score is subtly oppressive. Hoffman, however, is great, never angling for our sympathy. But getting it.