Leaving Las Vegas (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Leaving Las Vegas Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

A depressive alcoholic heads to Las Vegas and vows to drink himself to death in four weeks after he loses his job as a Hollywood talent agent and sells everything he owns. This powerful and unusually non-judgmental romantic tragedy chronicles his final descent, a steady slide that is only interrupted by a brief and passionate affair with a lonely, pragmatic streetwalker. Soon after arriving in the glittering city, he buys an enormous cache of booze and checks himself into the sleaziest hotel he can find. He sees Sera walking down the street and offers her $500. He then finds that what he really needs is someone to listen to him. Struck by his neediness, Sera asks Ben to stay with her, and he agrees to on the condition that she not interfere with his drinking. Though the story is sad, it doesn't flinch when presenting the story realistically without undue sentimentality. Ben is determined to commit slow suicide and Sera knows there is nothing she can do to stop him. She simply respects his wish to die and loves him for what he is.more
Rating: R (adult situations/language, sex)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed By:
Written By: John O'Brien, Mike Figgis
In Theaters:
On DVD: Feb 24, 1998
United Artists


Nicolas Cage
as Ben Sanderson
Graham Beckel
as Bartender
R. Lee Ermey
as Conventioneer
David Brisbin
as Landlord
Xander Berkeley
as Cynical Cabbie
Albert Henderson
as Man at Strip Bar
Lou Rawls
as Concerned Cabbie
Steven Weber
as Marc Nussbaum
Kim Adams
as Sheila
Stuart Regen
as Man at Bar
Al C. Henderson
as Man at Strip Bar
Shashi Bhatia
as Hispanic Prostitute
Carey Lowell
as Bank Teller
Anne Lange
as Business Colleague
Thomas Kopache
as Mr. Simpson
Vincent Ward
as Business Man No. 1
French Stewart
as Business Man No. 2
Lucinda Jenney
as Weird Woman
Mike Figgis
as Mobster No. 1
Waldemar Kalinowski
as Mobster No. 2
Ed Lauter
as Mobster No. 3
David Kriegel
as Hotel Manager
Bill Thompson
as Midwest Man at Pools...
Marek Stabrowski
as Pawn Shop Owner
Mariska Hargitay
as Hooker at Bar
Danny Huston
as Barman No. 2
Shawnee Smith
as Biker Girl
Paul Quinn
as Biker Guy
Julian Lennon
as Bartender in Biker B...
Tracy Thorne
as Waitress at Mall
Bob Rafelson
as Man at Mall
Susan Barnes
as Desk Clerk
Michael A. Goorjian
as College Boy No. 1
Davidlee Willson
as College Boy No. 3
Sergio Premoli
as Stetson Man at Casin...
Gordon Michaels
as Security Guard
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Leaving Las Vegas

Critic Reviews for Leaving Las Vegas

All Critics (48) | Top Critics (12)

Dark and giddy at the same time, Leaving Las Vegas takes us into dreamy, intoxicated places no movie about an alcoholic has gone before.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

We're not talking high, morally instructive tragedy here, just a hard lesson in postmodernist outlawry and its sad little anarchies.

Full Review… | September 19, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The film pulls no punches, takes no prisoners and flies in the face of feel-good pictures.

Full Review… | February 11, 2008
Top Critic

The plot goes nowhere, but under the pornographic circumstances Figgis, Cage, and Shue all do fine jobs.

Full Review… | February 11, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It certainly has the courage of its convictions.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Small, searing film.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Leaving Las Vegas

An awfully bleak and depressing drama that doesn't offer us any door or way in to connect to a deplorable alcoholic who only wants to die and a pitiable prostitute in need of his love - and her interview scenes are just intrusive, unnecessary and heavy-handed like most of the script.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

Terrific acting but grim, grim, grim.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Don't get me wrong, this film is thoroughly downbeat, however I feel alcoholism is still somewhat sugar coated. The likelihood of Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) finding a woman as attractive and utterly devoted as Sera (Elizabeth Shue) is slim. It's possible of course, their bond is understandable; they're both people in grave need of care, one being a severe addict and the other being a victim on the fringe of society. Also, the crucial element that makes the relationship and indeed the film work is its platonic aberrance.

Nevertheless, I thought that 'Leaving Las Vegas' is a somewhat idealised account of dire alcoholism. This really struck me in an erotically charged scene in which the pair kiss and caress each other with the help of a large bottle of liquor - it's an image that would exist merely in the dreams of most addicts. However, the engaging central romance certainly beats 2 hours of a more ordinary dive into alcoholism, which would be a film of roughly two sets: a pub and a bedroom stained with urine, excrement, blood and vomit.

A film of this nature depends on a good central performance, and it gets one. Cage is depressingly real and effective as Ben. I am a fan of many of Cage's unhinged roles, however 'Leaving Las Vegas' is one the films that proves that when he moderates his idiosyncratic lunacy, he can produce genuinely good, measured performances.

The film is scored with smooth, melancholic Jazz tracks and the narrative is constructed by a tautly composed prologue which gives a brief insight into Ben's life before he left for Las Vegas. This includes a brilliant scene of Ben ridding himself of his personal and professional existence to the sound of Michael McDonald's energetic 'Lonely Teardrops'. It's a scene of mixed emotions, although he is condemning himself, it is also an act of liberation. Not much detail is given about his life in the prologue, however it is clear that he was a popular and successful family man. When he is fired, his boss says with a touching sincerity 'we enjoyed having you around here, but you know how it is', giving him a cheque which Ben describes as 'too generous'. This depth given to Cage's character makes his decline all the more tragic.

'Leaving Las Vegas' is dark, seedy and tragic. Recommended.

Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

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