Leaving Las Vegas Reviews

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Super Reviewer
April 17, 2015
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.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2007
Terrific acting but grim, grim, grim.
Jack Hawkins
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2012
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.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2011
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!
Super Reviewer
April 14, 2009
This will make you feel like shit and really not want to have sex.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2010
Just a beautiful unconventional piece of storytelling with characters that are irresistible. Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue both gave equally flawless performances as self destructive human beings, yet incredibly sympathetic. You really can't believe the amount of alcohol consumed on screen, it must be a bottle of hard liquor a minute. It almost makes you want to never drink again, the performances are that believable and effective.
garyX
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2006
An alcoholic whose life falls apart decides to sell up and move to Las Vegas with the express intention of drinking himself to death, where he meets a hooker with whom he embarks on a dysfunctional relationship. The ultimate expression of a love story between two people who refuse to change who they are, Leaving Las Vegas has a real European flavour to it; this is the kind of self destructive, tragic romance that is usually the proviso of the French! Some may find his affected performances (understandably) irritating, but his manic shambling/shouting repartee is actually perfect for the part of a drunk circling the pan of his life and this is surely one of his best. Elisabeth Shue is less convincing, perhaps a little too attractive and clean cut for the part she is playing and the supporting characters (Yuri in particular) aren't really explored. The garish bright lights of Las Vegas make the perfect backdrop for the story however and there are many memorable moments, mainly provided by Cage's drunken rampages. I could've done without Sting's faux jazz crooning that permeates the film and it did feel a little like a case of style over substance on second viewing but it has moments of genius (including the least erotic yet touching sex scene you are likely to see) and is the kind of film I wish was made in America a little more often. Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas meets Love Story.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2010
I love Nicolas Cage, but this movie just made me love him more. Him, and of course Elisabeth Shue, who made the movie.
middleeasternfilms
Super Reviewer
May 12, 2008
Cage actually became an alcoholic for two weeks and videotaped himself drunk every night to prepare for this role. It won him an Academy Award for Best Actor, too. He's literally smashed in every single scene and as sad as it is to watch himself literally drink himself to death, it's what he wants to accomplish and he does it. Elisabeth Shue plays the prostitute who's helpless to watch him slowly kill himself. Numerous cameos in this one.
Super Reviewer
½ September 29, 2009
Love this film. It?s a very moving story of two lost souls finding each other albeit, a little too late. Cage deserved his Oscar for his performance but Shue was overlooked I believe.
cosmo313
Super Reviewer
September 20, 2009
This is an underappreciated gem of the cinema of the 1990's. Nicolas Cage gives his best performance of his career here, and rightfully won the Oscar for his work. Shue should have won, as she also gives an excellent performance, but sadly that didn't happen. The writing is excellent and the portrayal of depression and late-stage alcoholism is spot on perfect. This is not an uplifting film, but it's an honest one, despite it's tragic and gloomy nature.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2009
Awesome job by Cage, like he's known of doing every few movies. Unbelievable that someone can be that bad of an alcoholic, but this movie will convince you they can.
Super Reviewer
October 24, 2007
A devastating, emotional, original love story which focuses on two very distraught and socially unaccepted individuals, who accept each other for who they are and live with one another's decisions. With all the formulaic, happy-feeling love stories we get nowadays, it's a pleasure to finally see a film like this, one that is so brutally honest as to what love is. Not for everyone, the content is rough and the way the two lead characters lead their lives isn't fun to watch, but this is a harrowing depiction of alcoholism, prostitution, and how these lifestyles lead to nothing but pain and agony. One of the better films of the 90's, with two outstanding lead performances (Nicolas Cage is simply incredible, and Elisabeth Shue embodies her character fully) that anchor this heart-wrenching love story.
CloudStrife84
Super Reviewer
½ July 5, 2007
Whether it be the alcoholic or neurotic type, it seems Nic Cage is at his best whenever he plays a writer of some kind. Because this, along with his performance in Adapation, marks the high points of his acting career thus far. On top of that it also it has a really interesting and unique story. Quite depressing in some ways, but good nevertheless. The only thing I wasn't too fond of was all the jazz and blues music included in the soundtrack. Other than that though, I enjoyed every minute of it. Not to be missed if you're a fan of Cage!
Super Reviewer
May 10, 2009
Excellent, dark and disturbing romance. The acting is top-notch.
Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2009
Nothing spells tragic love story like a drunk and a hooker. Leaving Las Vegas is an excellent romantic movie. The characters are incredibly flawed, yet they don't bother trying to victimise them. Cage states "I can't remember if I started drinking when she left or she left when I started drinking." It's a perfect one line set-up. Whatever these characters have done previously is of no consequence. Figgis wants us to concentrate on who they are NOW, and what they do for each other. Unlike Hollywood romances they don't do a lot for each other, apart from accept one another for whom they are. It's sweet but also hard viewing. Cage and Shue are a wonderful couple, refusing to judge and refusing to ask the other person to make a compromise. It's a brutal thing to behold. Cage deserved the Oscar, he plays a cinematic drunk not for laughs, not for sympathy and not for hate. He just plays it and all these emotions manifest naturally.
Super Reviewer
November 28, 2007
"Is drinking a way of killing yourself?
- Or is killing myself a way of drinking?"

Ben Sanderson (Nic Cage), once a promising screenwriter, decides to drink himself to death after losing everything, including hope, in his life. In Las Vegas, he meets a beautiful prostitute called Sera (Elizabeth Shue), who also is living a troubled life. Can an unexpected, abnormal love help them?

"You can never, never ask me to stop drinking. Do you understand?"

"Leaving Las Vegas" is a tough and depressing film to watch. Looking at a troubled man literally drink himself to death, and knowing that all that he needs is in front of him (and I'm not talking about the bottle...), may be a hard one to watch.

Nicolas Cage, who won an Oscar for his portrayal, does an authentic performance. He lives and breaths as Ben Sanderson. Truly one of the most heartbreaking performances in the history of cinema. This time, the golden statue went to the one who really deserved it. "Leaving Las Vegas" is the film that Nic Cage will be remembered by.

Elizabeth Shue's performance is just as high-class as Cage's. Those who remember her from such films as "Karate Kid" and "Back to the Future" should prepare themselves for something much more different.

Mike Figgis' direction is very good. He concentrates on that what is the strongest element of the movie, the character development. He gives us the viewers simple images, backed up with a beautiful jazzy score.

"Leaving Las Vegas" is a real gem. The film is touching but very tough to watch. In the end, it's a love story that will make those, who have it alright in their lives, to clinch on to that important thing they have. Hope and love.
Super Reviewer
½ December 8, 2008
This harrowing concept of vice-ridden people falling in love would have worked so much better in a short film. They had nearly two hours to play this out and the Yuri character does not figure into the second half at all. His conclusion was too easy on Sera. Without the full development of danger, passion, betrayal, the film's just a music video with really great performances.
LorenzoVonMatterhorn
Super Reviewer
September 18, 2008
Ben Sanderson: "I'll tell you, right now... I'm in love with you. But, be that as it may, i am not here to force my twisted soul into your life."

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 which she grudgingly agrees. A darkly comic tragedy, Leaving Las Vegas charts the brief romantic convergence of two desperately needy people who together find a brief flicker of happiness.

Review
This movie is not my favorite love story, but nonetheless it's a good one. It is anything but a traditional story, but I think that it does a much better job of capturing the characters true emotions, than almost any romantic movie out there today. Both Shue and Cage come from different walks of life, and each have their own emotional problems. This makes it entertaining as a couple because they are essentially dysfunctional, but still manage to maintain a relationship. The performance by Cage is awesome, and Shue does a great job as well. Overall this movie is a rather dark love story with great acting and a good plot. My only complaints over the movie is that there are few minor characters and throughout the movie the volume is low and some dialog is hard to hear, also in many scenes the camera angle makes it hard to see what exactly is happening.
Super Reviewer
½ August 2, 2007
A gloomy but touching story of loneliness, addictions and search of love. Elisabeth Shue and Nicolas Cage are magnificently disturbing, crude, despondent, depressing and hyper realistic in their roles.
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