Open Letter to Philip Seymour Hoffman

October 13, 2010

Dear Phil,

It’s time for me to confess that I’ve been holding a grudge against you ever since the night I sat home and drank through “Love Liza” alone. When the picture ended, I telephoned my (then long distance) partner and sobbed into the mouthpiece for minutes.

On the short Spectrum of TV Trauma: if noticing the south tower falling before Peter Jennings did is at the most devastating end and seeing young Walt get kidnapped at the end of Lost Season 1* is at the least devastating end (still, severely disturbing), “Love Liza” fell smack dab in the middle.

Put a different way, all of my self destructive behaviors are linked to incredible pleasure. Except on that night, the night I watched your performance in “Love Liza”, I wanted to take a blade to my flesh. I wanted to bleed. I did (want to). But I’m healthier than that. I just cried incoherent sobs on the phone to a man who was too far away. But closer than Liza.

Last month, on my 41st birthday, a feature I had never heard of was showing 10 minutes from my office at the exact window of time I had available. Hmmm, I thought, Philip Seymour Hoffman has directed a movie? I was on such a high from my 94-and-counting Facebook birthday wishes, that I figured not even one of your heart wrenching characters could bring me down. If it got too rough, I’d walk out on you.

So I found myself in the darkness with a very damp face. “Jack Goes Boating”. Oh, Mister Hoffman. You have created a beautiful love letter to the human race. This is a film I will watch regularly. I hesitate to slather too much praise for fear of diminishing its impact. So I will simply thank you. Thank you for carrying me back to Zion.

With love, respect and (it bears repeating) gratitude,

Ruth

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*Normally, I abide by a strict “no spoiler” code, but people who might be tempted to Netflix “Lost” are on their own.

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