Following his wife's suicide, computer designer Wilson is left with a goodbye note he cannot bring himself to read. His grief takes a peculiar turn when he becomes addicted to sniffing petrol fumes.
For many people, this bleakly comic study of a man failing to come to terms with his wife's suicide might prove insubstantial, or even distasteful. But for fans of the prodigious Philip Seymour Hoffman - who are typically forced to snack upon the occasional scene stolen from higher profile, lesser actors - Love Liza represents a three-course treat.
The scattershot screenplay, by Hoffman's younger brother Gordy, smacks of an eager writer following every hunch to its (il)logical conclusion, while first-time feature director Louiso is in possession of a light touch and an interesting eye.
Patently, only a gigantic central performance would tie this odd series of misadventures together, and Hoffman - whether funny, monstrous, angry, desperate or intoxicated - provides it, holding down a movie that is at times so slight, so elusive, that it threatens to do what Wilson's remote control plane cannot do: fly away.
Think De Niro in Taxi Driver and you get an idea of how fearlessly Hoffman attacks what might become known as his signature role. That he did not merit even an Oscar nomination is a massive shame in this original twist on grief and addiction.