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Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  9 February 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 88,663 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 278 user | 117 critic | 23 from

Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 34 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kim Adams ...
Stuart Regen ...
Albert Henderson ...
Man at Strip Bar (as Al Henderson)
Shashi Bhatia ...
Anne Lange ...


Because his wife left him and took his son with her, screenwriter Ben Sanderson has started drinking, a lot. He's getting more and more isolated and he troubles women in bars because he wants to have sex with them. When he gets fired, he decides to leave everything behind and move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. In Las Vegas he meets Sera, a prostitute with some problems as well who he moves in with. Written by Marco van Hoof <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prostitute | sex | alcoholic | bar | love | See All (102) »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality and language, violence and pervasive alcohol abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

9 February 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Adiós a Las Vegas  »

Box Office


$3,600,000 (estimated)


$31,968,347 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Mike Figgis:  The gangster staring down Ben at the gas station outside of Las Vegas. See more »


Out at the pool at the desert motel, when Sera picks up the bottle and walks over to sit on Ben, the alcohol in the bottle goes from about half full as Sera is sitting, to three quarters full as she sits and drinks. Also, the label on the bottle is facing away as she starts to sit, yet is facing the viewer as she completes her sit. As she sits with her hands apart, arms spread wide, holding the bottle in one hand, it would be quite difficult for her to spin the bottle 180 degrees in the second or two it takes her so sit. See more »


Ben Sanderson: You know I love you, yeah?
Sera: Yeah, I know... I love you. I love you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits do not appear until fifteen minutes into the film. See more »


Referenced in Proinhibition (2009) See more »


Soundtrack available on Pangaea Records
Released through I.R.S. Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Viva Greek Tragedies
5 January 2004 | by (Valencia, California) – See all my reviews

Not unlike John Huston's Under The Volcano, Leaving Las Vegas borrows from Greek mythology, obliquely mirroring the tragedy and pathos of Orpheus' failed attempt to rescue his dead wife, Eurydice, from Hades. Mike Figgis obliges us with a helpful hint in the scene where Nicolas Cage gives Elizabeth Shue a present of earrings: Greek cameos.

As in the ancient tale, love challenges the inevitability of death, although, in the case of LLV, roles are upended and sometimes blurred, and Orphean references are either thinly disguised, or non-specific to the point of being thoroughly sublimated. Academic, to be sure, but completely acceptable as long as LLV can sustain itself and remain engaging. And it surely does, thanks to Figgis' intelligent script and direction, Cage's role as a down-and-out writer and his protracted self-destruction, and Shue's portrayal of a lonely hooker, lifting that old bromide beyond what could have been routine, to a level not seen since Jane Fonda's character in Klute. Excellent performances all around.

With all that said, this film is not for everyone (in particular those who only respond to gratuitous sex, car chases, and mindless pyrotechnics). The lurid depictions of despair, self-loathing, and violence could put off even the most hardened social worker. In my mind's eye, I could see psychiatrists amongst the theater audiences, furiously jotting down their observations. Understandable; the two principal characters are, in the common parlance, screwed up. One cannot cope with failure, so decides to opt out, while the other does cope, but only barely, existing along the ragged edges of what passes for society in Nevada Hell. These details, though, tend to outline and, indeed, strengthen the true heart of this film: Sacrifice and Unconditional Love.

If this film is not for everyone, then who is it for? Those with real life experience and the maturity gained thereby. Those with strong emotional constitutions. Anyone appreciative of impassioned performances. Freudians. Alcoholics, recovering and otherwise. Pimps. Priests. Classicists. Petty whiners in need of perspective. And, more than anyone else, couples who plan on breaking up. In sickness and in health, 'til death do us part. 9.5 out of 10.

64 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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i LOVE this film but HATED the soundtrack midnight_cinephile
Yuri yelling at Sera: Translation? Fist_Rothbone
After the rape scene... lisacamillek
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Why did they choose Elizabeth Shue for this part? Winter23
Cage went on a real drinking binge while filming mr_polite_
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