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Leaving Las Vegas (1995)



Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 55,474

My Rating

Movie Info

Mike Figgis' grim drama documents a romantic triangle of sorts involving prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue), failed Hollywood screenwriter Ben (Oscar-winner Nicolas Cage), and the constant flow of booze which he loves more dearly than life itself. Arriving in Las Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death, Ben meets Sera, and they gradually begin falling for one another. From the outset, however, Ben warns Sera that no matter what, she can never ask him to quit drinking, a condition to


Drama, Romance

John O'Brien, Mike Figgis

Feb 24, 1998

United Artists

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All Critics (47) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (5) | DVD (9)

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

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It certainly has the courage of its convictions.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Small, searing film.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO ESSAY] "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995) is a remarkably potent romantic drama that permanently altered the careers of many of the people involved in its creation.

September 7, 2013 Full Review Source:

Figgis puts a desperate drunk front and center and demands we deal with him and the Jungian shadow he casts. [Blu-ray]

July 19, 2011 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Figgis' film, one of the few to show the sleazy flip-side of the glossy city of Las Vega, offers an unblinking portrayal of alcoholism.

September 19, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

It's a relief when so dark a film refuses to preach, trusting the viewer to draw his own conclusions about the roots of America's self-destructive funk.

February 11, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Figgis presents disintegration as a state of grace.

September 24, 2007 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

An uncompromising, surprisingly poignant skid-row love story.

January 23, 2006
Fantastica Daily

Grim yet compelling, downbeat but not really depressing, Mike Figgis' multi-nuanced portrait of an alcoholic, splendidly played by Oscar winner Nicholas Cage, is easily is most accomplished and haunting picture.

July 1, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

A haunting, heartbreaking film.

December 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

What gives the film power is Nicholas Cage.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

An obviously safe, bland, overly pretentious reading of an ancient story, complete with the stock "hooker with a heart of gold" character.

May 15, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Excellent, dark and disturbing romance. The acting is top-notch.

March 5, 2003
Juicy Cerebellum

It's still an achievement, though its status is quickly fading. Did Shue really deserve an Oscar nomination for this?

January 17, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

...a brilliantly realized tone poem... a cauterizing movie -- it burns like bourbon splashed on an exposed heart.

December 9, 2002 Full Review
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Depressing, dull and dreary.

September 27, 2002
Fantastica Daily

Audience Reviews for Leaving Las Vegas

Muere en Las Vegas!

Review coming to on September 14th.
August 11, 2013

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.
December 2, 2012
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

Nick Cage loses his mind and wins an oscar...what a movie! The story and his acting blend in such a intriguing way that you have to appreciate it!
August 8, 2012
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

This will make you feel like shit and really not want to have sex.
February 25, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Ben Sanderson: Interesting choice of words.
    – Submitted by Pedrina G (15 months ago)
    1. Ben Sanderson: I'm like a prickly pear... I'm a prickly pear!
    – Submitted by Ross H (20 months ago)
    1. Ben Sanderson: I don't know if my wife left me because of my drinking or I started drinking? Cause my wife left me.
    – Submitted by Cem A (21 months ago)
    1. Ben Sanderson: I'll tell you, right now... I'm in love with you.
    – Submitted by Alex K (22 months ago)
    1. Ben Sanderson: Are you desirable? Are you irresistible?
    – Submitted by Alex K (22 months ago)
    1. Ben Sanderson: We both know that I'm a drunk. And I know you are a hooker.
    – Submitted by Alex K (22 months ago)
View all quotes (6)

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