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Leaving Las Vegas More at IMDbPro »

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25 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Bravura Cage & Shue; latter day "Days of Wine & Roses"; flawless tragic love story

Author: ( from fairview, nj
11 April 2003

LEAVING LAS VEGAS (1995) **** Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands. (Cameos: Richard Lewis, Steven Weber, Carey Lowell, French Stewart, Julian Lennon, Mariska Hargitay, R. Lee Ermey, Ed Lauter, Danny Huston, Lucinda Jenney, Lou Rawls, Laurie Metcalf, Shawnee Smith, Bob Rafelson,Xander Berkley). Uncompromisingly bleak and powerful portrayal of unconditional love between two tragic misfits. Cage in a bravura performance, that justifiably garnered him a Best Actor Oscar, vows to give up on life and heads to Vegas to drink himself to death where he meets and falls for pretty victimized hooker Shue (the performance of her career, and Best Actress nominee) who decides to love him for what he is. Excellent rapport and believably realistic performances and excellent adaptation of John O' Brien's semi-autobiographical novel of total despair. O' Brien committed suicide shortly after his novel was being produced into a film. Filmed in grainy 16MM and blown up to 35MM gives it an all too natural look. Look sharply for the film's director Mike Figgis as a goateed thug after pimp Sands.

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33 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Drunken Cage: A Cross Between Peter North & Arthur

Author: JimS_8686 from United States
19 April 2009

I am not quite sure why Leaving Las Vegas was held in such high regard upon it's release in '95. This film was an abysmal failure in just about every respect. I guess if you enjoy seeing beautiful women bare their breasts frequently, the film will succeed for you on some level. But Nicholas Cage's character is pulling more trim than James Bond. He can pound a 5th quicker than Blutarsky, while operating a motor vehicle with such precision that he can outsmart a cop on a motorcycle who actually happens to witness him chugging vodka while driving down the Vegas strip. I guess the moral of this movie is: any slim, middle aged guy with a receding hairline could wallow through life acting like a pitiful drunken buffoon with a tolerance that would probably have eclipsed Farley's, and have gorgeous women constantly throwing themselves at them.

The problem here is with the casting. Perhaps I would have been able to take this material more seriously if Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, or Zac Efron were cast instead of Cage. But even then, you're still faced with the dilemma of asking yourself: why a would a person want to kill themselves when they have all these beautiful women aggressively forcing themselves on them 24/7.

Elisabeth Shue channels Jennifer Jason Leigh as the hooker with a heart of gold. Her relationship with Cage does not amount to much more than mutual self pity for one another. Cage and Shue's chemistry seems forced. The film's frank and explicit sexuality appear to be the main selling point. Leaving Las Vegas may be memorable in terms of shock value and pushing R-rating boundaries, but that is pretty much it.

Literally every scene will leave the viewer scratching their heads. At the beginning of the movie, Cage is in a liquor store filling his cart to maximum capacity with top shelf liquor, and then in the very next scene they show him in a seedy bar begging the bartender to pour him another shot.

The scene where Cage crawls to his refrigerator and fumbles for a beverage is supposed to be a serious moment depicting the hell of going through DT's as a result of severe alcoholism. But Cage's idea of "method acting" in this scene is apeing Jim Carrey from Ace Ventura Pet Detective . Cage convulses violently as if he just grabbed a live electrical wire after getting out of swimming pool every time he takes a swig.

There is another scene at a casino where Cage wants a drink real bad and he loses it, flipping over a blackjack table in the process. Cops politely, gently escort him away with genuine sympathy. Even the dealer looks like she has fallen under Cage's spell. Whether it's a cop or a hooker, everyone Cage encounters in Vegas seem like they are extremely concerned, & care for him deeply. Even a friendly bartender working in a dive bar which gets little business refuses to serve Cage and begs him to seek help. Nobody ever seems the slightest bit annoyed by his buffoonish drunken antics - save for woman who runs a hotel and kicks them out after Cage shatters a glass table outdoors. Shue's character seems flabbergasted that the hotel manager isn't ready to take a bullet for the two of them.

Don't let Cage's Oscar win fool you. Leaving Las Vegas is a pedestrian effort in every respect. Upon it's release, Mike Figgis was hailed by critics as the next Scorsese. 14 years later, he is unheard of. Perhaps one could conclude LLV was a bit overrated upon it's release, and did not hold up over time. That person would be correct.

Top it all off with a terrible original score by Sting. Leaving Las Vegas is an thoroughly unimpressive, unintentionally laughable film that smacks the viewer in the face with it's implausibility at every turn. A movie you will not forget anytime soon.

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33 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

The Least Enjoyable Movie I Have Ever Seen

Author: noahk from Maryland
28 December 2001

Sitting through this film made me rethink how I view movies in general. Although this is a bold statement, I don't mean it as praise for this film. Quite simply, I found it so horrible to watch, it made me realize that I generally go to movies primarily to be entertained. Sure, sometimes I might be in the mood for something thought provoking, rather than outright entertaining, but "Leaving Las Vegas," was neither as far as I'm concerned.

The story essentially is about a man (Nicholas Cage) who, despite success in his career, has seemingly lost his family due to his drinking, and he has made a decision to go to Las Vegas and spend the rest of his money as he intends to kill himself drinking. In Las Vegas, he meets an unlikely kindred spirit in a hooker (Elisabeth Shue), and they embark on a rather untraditional relationship with nothing positive to be gained as a result of it.

The initial problem for me was, I didn't like either the characters or the premise. I found Cage to be without any value whatsoever and the movie would have been much better (and shorter, albeit entirely unnecessary) if he had just killed himself immediately and spared the audience from having to watch it. I had no empathy for him and the sad situation he had gotten himself into. Shue was slightly less pathetic, I suppose, but I still didn't find myself caring what happened to her. I'm not sure what about Cage's performance made it worthy of an Oscar-- he just acted like himself but a little bit dopier.. big stretch!

Overall, I found it an extremely unpleasant film to watch (to put it mildly) and I resented having wasted $10 on tickets and over two hours of my life suffering through it. I have never hated a movie with a passion as much as this one. Not recommended for anybody, as I fail to see what one could derive from such a movie. Rating: 1/10

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24 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Cartoon alcoholism and gratuitous misogyny - Cage wins Oscar for unwittingly hilarious performance!

Author: MikiUK from United Kingdom
14 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So tell me - what serious boozer drinks Budweiser? How many suicidally-obsessed drinkers house a fully stocked and barely touched range of drinks in their lonely motel room that a millionaire playboy's bachelor-pad bar would be proud to boast? And what kind of an alcoholic tends to drink with the bottle held about 8 inches from his hungry mouth so that the contents generally spill all over his face? Not to mention wasting good whisky by dousing your girlfriend's tits with it, just so the cinema audience can get a good eyeful of Elisabeth Shue's assets.

Cage seems to be portraying the most attention-seeking look-at-me alcoholic ever to have graced the screen while Shue looks more like a Berkely preppy slumming it for a summer than some seasoned street-walker. She is humiliated and subjugated as often as possible in this revolting movie with beatings, skin lacerations, anal rape and graphic verbal abuse - all of it completely implausible and included apparently only to convey a sense of her horribly demeaned state and offer the male viewers an astonishingly clichéd sentimental sexual fantasy of the 'tart-with-a-heart'.

Still - I did watch it to the end, by which time I was actually laughing out loud as Shue's tough street hooker chopped carrots in the kitchen wanly, pathetically smiling while Cage - all eyes popping and shaking like like a man operating a road drill in an earthquake - grimaced and mugged his way through the final half-hour...

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Leaving Mike Figgis

Author: justincward from Glasgow, Scotland
31 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoiler: An alcoholic (sacked) screenwriter and an abused prostitute find true love in Las Vegas. Except she gets gang raped and he dies. Apparently John O'Brien, the author of the novel, killed himself while the movie was in production. Mike Figgis may or may not have let him in to see the rushes.

Oh God, it's Mike Figgis again. I caught this pile of tripe on a low-rent TV channel, and it occurred to me that the L'Oreal ads with over-lit, over-made-up, underdressed models were more realistic than this trite, shallow, exploitative pile of garbage.

The Mike Figgis checklist:

1. Completely static character arcs? Check.

2. Characters behave idiotically in order to advance story? Check.

3. Characters suffering physical injury or abuse come back stronger than ever in a day or two? Check.

If you want to hear Nicolas 'Oscar for doing retard' (alcoholic counts) Cage and Elisabeth Shue saying naughty words then Leaving Las Vegas is for you. If you have any discernment whatever is isn't.

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27 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

beyond bad

Author: blanche-2 from United States
29 May 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A big disappointment for what was touted as an incredible film. Incredibly bad. Very pretentious. It would be nice if just once someone would create a high profile role for a young woman that was not a prostitute.

We don't really learn anything about this character, except that he seems to be a hopeless alcoholic. We don't know why. Nicholas Cage turns in an excellent performance as usual, but I feel that this role and this script let him down. And how, after not being able to perform for the whole film, can he have an erection on his deathbed? Really terrible and I felt like I needed a bath.

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

I wish we could have this Nicolas Cage back.

Author: Christian_Dimartino from United States
10 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue are truly stunning in the 1995 film, Leaving Las Vegas, a powerful and tragic drama from director Mike Figgis(Internal affairs). The two stars give the best performances of their careers, in one of the best films of their careers.

Cage plays Ben, a man who has officially hit rock bottom and has gone to Vegas in a plan to drink himself to death. Until he meets Sera(played by Elisabeth Shue), a lonely hooker who falls for Ben. The film focuses on their relationship, pretty much.

You really grow to hate Ben, and you really grow to love Sera. And in the end, you feel really sad for her. The whole film is real. The film is mainly about two sad people who are having a midlife crisis, and watching them is intoxicating(no pun intended I swear).

Cage really earned his Oscar here, even though I sort of hated him. I think that Shue definitely should've won for her wonderfully sad performance here. We grow to truly care about these characters, and thats mainly why the ending is so sad.

This is a powerful and wonderful film that will keep you thinking about it long after its over. There is a lot to admire about it, but the main thing to admire is the remarkable performances by Nicolas Cage and the sadly forgotten Elisabeth Shue.


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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:


Author: Flixfixed from India
17 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie does for me what, maybe, a 100 shrinks could not have done....

In one of the best essayed roles played by any actor across generations, Nicholas Cage drags his way through the movie to a wholly welcome release of death and permanently etches his place in the psyche of the viewers.

And to give him company on this journey to inevitable destruction as the archetypal "golden-hearted hooker", Elizabeth Shue delivers one of the most riveting performances ever.

What exists between them is not mere "chemistry" - it is a the deepest underlying bond between two human beings, one still fighting for her right to redemption (Shue), and another who is beyond redemption of any kind (Cage). The two of them bring out every conceivable emotion that could exist in a living breathing human heart, tugging at them mercilessly so much so that towards the end of movie you are torn - one part of you wants them to succeed against all odds, and the other part actually sighs with relief at the welcome end of Cage's miserable existence.

Seriously depressing, this movie is certainly not for those who seek entertainment - it is almost like therapy. It is a catharsis of all that inside us which makes us human - sad, happy, dejected, hopeful, angry, loving...

Also, strongly recommended that you follow up this movie with a light-hearted "happy" movie..

This movie deserves a 11 on a 10, and Cage his Academy...

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8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Wow, this is one of the best portrayals of late-stage alcoholism yet.

Author: from United States
8 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've seen many films about alcoholism / drug addiction where the lead character starts off as a normal everyday person-who...starts experimenting...goes overboard...then gets clean. Figgis' and O'Brien's "Leaving Las Vegas" was far more realistic, as well as heartbreaking (Just as alcoholism truly is).

The film never explains how Ben Sanderson (Cage) became this type of alcoholic, or how his life was prior to the opening sequence. It just showed a late-stage hopeless alcoholic, such as I once was and certain members of my family still are, and his self-destruction and despair.

One of the most heartfelt scenes was when Ben was unable to sign his name due to experiencing DT's (Delirium Tremens), then he left, had a few drinks, came back, and was outgoing and complete as can be. This is actually how chronic alcoholism becomes.

The whole story of him going to Las Vegas to drink himself to death is very depressing and heartbreaking. In fact, the writer of the novel which this movie is based on took his own life and was also an apparent alcoholic.

Nicolas Cage was excellent as Ben, so was Elisabeth Shue as Sera. Two people who accepted and surrendered to their lifestyle.

My first time watching this, I thought it would have been a better ending if Ben sobered up, Sera quit hooking and they fell in love and lived happily ever after. But watching it again I changed my mind, I think the ending was appropriate to heighten the emotional climax. Because not all alcoholics/addicts do make it, most of them do in fact, suffer until their own fate.


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10 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Incredibly realistic, very credible, an excellent movie

Author: Charles Saint-Pierre (Chuck-149) from Montreal, Canada
19 July 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In today's society, we have many diseases. AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis... However, a very underrated and, in my opinion, deadly disease we seem to forget is alcoholism. Being an alcoholic is like being drug-addicted. You may think it is easy to quit drinking but it is as hard as dropping drugs and once you've stopped taking alcohol, you can't ever have any again or you'll simply go back to alcoholism. This issue is the principle theme of Leaving Las Vegas. However, in the movie, we see as well how alcohol can grab a person and this person will never want to quit and even less hear people asking him or her to see a doctor to quit drinking.

Prostitution may be considered by many to be something of very low class but for some women, it is the only possibility they have to make some money. Some prostitutes are independent and others have a pimp. In Leaving Las Vegas, Elisabeth Shue works for a pimp with whom she has a relationship.

Finally, the last issue in this movie is love. Love with a prostitute more specifically. In 1990's Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts refuses to kiss her clients on the lips to avoid making a connection with them. In this movie, Elisabeth Shue does not even talk about this for she believes to be strong enough to avoid any relationship that a client may be trying to trigger between him and her because of her love affair with her pimp Julian Sands. These three issues, alcoholism, prostitution, and love with a prostitute are the center themes of Leaving Las Vegas.

The story is simple. Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage) is a script-writer who has hit rock bottom and upon being released from his job decides to go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets a beautiful young prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue) with whom he spends the night only sleeping. He turns out to be Sera's only client that night and gives her five hundred dollars for her services. Her pimp Yuri (Julian Sands) is very mad but finally gets over it. Later on in the movie, Ben invites Sera to dinner but she refuses knowing that she must work to bring some money back to Yuri. However, when she goes back to Yuri, he tells her to leave and never come back. As she exits the hotel room where Yuri was staying she crosses three men going to Yuri's room. She goes back to Ben's motel-room and they go off to dinner. After dinner she invites him to live in her house and when he moves in, Ben explains that if Sera is to accept him into her life, she can never ask him to quit drinking. And so begins the love story between Ben and Sera.

Nicolas Cage walked home with that year's best actor Oscar and he deserved it. I believe that any alcoholic could associate himself to Ben. Elisabeth Shue is equally good as Sera, the sensitive but tough prostitute who accepts Ben as he is without judgment or prejudice. Mike Figgis's direction is exceptional. The fast-forwarding of the camera when Ben arrives to Las Vegas add to his drunk state of mind. But it is definitely Cage's movie all the way. The movie also tries to send a message which I believe is no matter what people look like, allow them to be themselves and do not judge them and that is all that Ben asks from Sera throughout the movie. There is a scene in a hotel in the desert where Ben and Sera are kissing and Ben is very drunk and as Ben gets up next to the pool, he knocks down a glass table and breaks it. A little while after, the owner of the hotel comes to help Sera pick up the mess and she tells Sera she wants Ben and her gone by the next morning. This scene is exactly the representation of what Ben doesn't want from Sera.

This movie may end a bit in the same way a tearjerker but it has nothing to do with that type of movie. On the contrary, it is a realistic moral on alcoholism with great performances and direction.

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