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Leaving Las Vegas
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Reviews & Ratings for
Leaving Las Vegas More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

as mixed as the drinks

Author: Jan Hrubin from Prague, Czech Republic
13 April 2003

After seeing "Leaving Las Vegas" for the second time, I truly have mixed feelings about it. Initially, I thought that Cage never acted convincingly drunk in it and that if he really drank that much, he´d be dead in the film´œ first 20 minutes most likely from inevitably crashing his car due to drinking extremely large amounts of vodka in it. However, later I learned that the most extreme alcoholics develop such a high immunity to alcohol´s effects that alcohol makes them act relatively normal more than anything else. When under the influence then, Cage´s character acts calm but also unfocused, silly , crazy, and irresponsible. When he has too little alcohol in him, he gets worse shakes than anyone kicking a harder drug. Whether all this is accurate, I really don´t know now. His relationship with the Elisabeth Shue character can be touching at times, especially in the scene when she lets him stay in her apartment and he gets a truly grateful smile on his face as a result. However, the movie would have actually benefitted from an extra hour or at least more touching moments because the relationship is presented as too quick and choppy for the viewer to fully sense it´s importance (even though the Shue character says how important it is to her at least three times to hammer this point home). However, the most striking thing about the relationship is that we get the sense that the two characters could really change their dead end lives around if they made the effort, even though the process would be very hard. However, as things rarely change for the better unless we actively want them to, we witness these two characters helplessly watch their lives fall apart because their attitude towards their lives is one of surrender.

I also have similarly mixed feelings about the film´s overall style and atmosphere. On one hand, presentations of seedy urban blight can be artistically pleasing. Las Vegas is presented as sublimely in its bleakness as for example, the cities in "Taxi Driver" and "Heavy Traffic". However, "Leaving Las Vegas" is obviously specifically calculated to shock the viewer. Seriously, is it really necessary to watch Shue take a number one or to hear her describe deviant sexual practices to know that the characters live rough ? Also, is pessimism really realistic or do tragedies resonate more in a world that is neither good nor bad ? It actually seems the "LLV" loses much of its shock value by saying that whatever bad or sickening things happen, it is normal to expect them. Still, who´s to say that such a view is 100 % wrong ? This movie is definitely food for thought.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

The lasting effect

Author: tarek-14 from United Kingdom
19 November 2005

When my girlfriend recommended this film months ago I had no intention of watching it, the back of the case and her description really didn't sell it to me but when I went to bed the other night and she had it playing I watched a couple of minutes of it and thought I'd give it a try.

What do I say, I found it one of the deepest things I'd ever seen and it moved me more than I ever thought a film could. It's been 4 days since I've seen it and I am still thinking about it and I am still feeling how i was while I was watching it, it's incredible. I've told everyone about it. I don't know why it's left me with this strange feeling but it has and I'm not sure when I'll stop feeling like this.

It is definitely now my favourite film ever but I have no desire to ever watch it again. I say that because I have had such a great experience of the film I don't want to risk ruining it and I couldn't take another dose! Has this film effected anyone else in this way?

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

I don't get it

Author: J. Wellington Peevis from Malltown
13 February 2003

This is good? The direction is good, actually better than good but the story is completely zhazhun. I'm sorry but someone convincingly playing a drunk doesn't impress me. I've never acted, but I just can't see the genius in it. I'm more impressed with drunks who are able to act sober in front of a camera quite honestly. Besides, Nicholas Cage's acting style always reminded me of someone with a hangover anyway. Where's the Oscar validation? Well it was an unusually crappy year for films was 1995. But in retrospect, given that Russell Crowe won for Gladiator, Mel Gibson should have won for Braveheart...anyways...back to this. Don't bother with it. It's disturbing without being revealing, and who needs that? A guy who chooses to drink himself to death doesn't get my sympathy. Sorry.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

leaving las vegas

Author: mardijamieson from Canada
2 June 2005

Leaving Las Vegas is my favorite movie. I think the acting is powerful and very riveting. I still try to watch it on a monthly basis.

Nicholas Cage is extremely convincing as Ben.....and he definitely deserved an academy award for his performance.

Both characters were so believable in their common struggles.

The music in the movie adds to film....which was performed by Sting. I have recently bought the sound track and it is wonderful.

I think the strong acting in the movie is easily connected with most peoples lives.......everyone runs from something at least once in their lives....exactly what Ben was doing.

If you have not had the pleasure of seeing this movie I highly recommend it....the first time I watched it I found it quit depressing but watched it again and have not been able to stop since.

Thank you so much

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Okay, But Why?

Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
14 September 2001

There's a deal you make with an artist: they get to satisfy themselves but they also have to satisfy us.

What's interesting is the balance Figgis has struck. There's a whole lot more emphasis on the film-specific elements: blocking, transitions, particularly apt sound and soundtrack, in out in in out cadences.

The ordinary theatrical elements are slighted: dialog, character development, old fashioned story values. This balance works for me in `Time Code,' because the filmic experiment is so intriguing. And a similar balance works with `Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,' a film congruent in respects other than the city.

But the balance completely fails here. I don't care about Cage, or his character. No greater focus is raised. There is a successful evocation of style, but it is wasted. As contrast, `Fight Club,' raised a much more intriguing and troubling world. The acting doesn't impress me so much. Playing a drunk or a mental incompetent is a lesser art, and it is a rare film where illustrious acting can alone make the trip worthwhile.

Figgis is interesting, and I'll go out of my way to watch his fuses, but he hasn't connected them to anything explosive yet.

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6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Critically acclaimed film devoid of entertainment

Author: David Lane from Winston-Salem, NC
24 December 2004

You'll have to excuse me if I am hesitant to jump on the bandwagon of films like these, even though the elite film critics suggest that I should. It seems there have always been extreme classes of movie watchers since the era of films began. There is the class that finds "Armageddon" and the theatrical "How the Green Dog (I mean Grinch) Stole Christmas" as the definition of a good film. Then there are those who think that a film is only good when it is harsh, uncompromising, filled with tragedy, portraying "realism". In these movies, the merit comes from the acting and dialog. Anything else remotely entertaining classifies it as an artless Hollywood film.

I myself like to wander in between categories. I enjoy good Summer movies, but acknowledge them like great tasting junk-food. I also enjoy the deeper, more intelligent, artistic films that draws flocks of critical praise. Yet, when films such as "Leaving Las Vegas" are considered the best films of good movie years such as 1995, it makes me wonder much about the people who harbor such opinions. Is your life so good that you need hopelessness portrayed on the screen as a change of pace? Is your life as bleak as Nicholas Cage's and Elizabeth Shue's character that you need to see it visually to feel validated in your own decisions? Do you hate "unrealisitic" hope-filled movies because you have no incentive to change your own life? Does seeing this movie actually make a positive difference in your life? Movies have always had two purposes for me: entertainment and education. Really good movies (best of a certain year) do both. "Leaving Las Vegas" did neither for me. I cannot deny that there are powerful scenes nor that the two lead actors are first-rate. The dialog is also engaging. Yet, here lies a movie that shows the ugliness of throwing your life away without any hope of change. It is this colored with harsh profanity and unpleasantness and labeled "true to life".

To whom is this movie for? People I know personally do not act like this or speak like this. Real life for me is filled with hope and dreams. It is about going through trials and overcoming them. Watching a movie that makes me feel unpleasant from beginning to end without one ounce of inspiration is not a way to spend two hours of my time. How can this film be considered greater than "Braveheart?" That is a movie that is also considered a tragedy, yet on the way is filled with love, adventure, dedication, and hope. It does what a movie should do. Filmmakers, let's make high-quality films without thinking we need the bleakest point-of-view to classify it as a great work.

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11 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Sleaze In Stylish Form

Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
9 March 2006

I waited a long time before I saw this award-winning movie. Everything I had read about it led me to believe it was a depressing film. Most films about alcoholics aren't pretty and this was about an alcoholic AND a down-and-out hooker, so how much fun could it be?

Maybe because I expected the worst, I found it a pleasant surprise. Sure, the two people weren't exactly "winners" in life but the movie wasn't that depressing, was it? And the film had style and good acting performances from the two leads Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, right?

Yes, but "on further review," as they say in the pro football telecasts, my review has changed 180 degrees. I must have had too many drinks like "Ben" to like this movie in first place. Hey, I am far from any prude but this is nothing but slickly-wrapped soft porn. It's Sleaze with, yes, a capital "S." I can't even describe half the stuff Shue described in this movie, casually discussing almost every sexual act you can think of. Maybe that's cool to critics like Ebert, who thought this was the number one movie of the year. it's just another example of the sick state of mind in the film world, from filmmakers to actors to critics, where "pushing the envelope" is the way to go. It started escalating with "Midnight Cowboy" getting the Academy Award and keeps going, through American Beauty and the sleazy films you saw nominated for this year's Best Picture.

Cage won the Academy Award for Best Actor here, and I don't have a problem with that. Shue was equally as good but I found out more than one viewing is like having too many drinks - "not good." It's sad to see soft-porn sordidness because stylish.

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A 90's Masterpiece About Addiction, Fate & The Deepest/Darkest Corners of Love

Author: Lieutenant_Halfabeef from Chicago
13 April 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Leaving Las Vegas has to be one of the darkest, most depressing movies to ever come out of Hollywood. It's: harrowing, heartbreaking, colorful, dark ::::very dark::::, over-the-top, intimate, gut wrenchingly sad & surprisingly funny at times, but by the end no ounce of hope is left.

Based on a novel by the late John O' Brien: Leaving Las Vegas is about Ben Sanderson (Cage)- a suicidally depressed man who decides to drink himself to death after losing his family (possibly because of his drinking?) and later losing all his friends and job and personal possessions and chooses Las Vegas as his final resting place. While there, he meets a prostitute named Sera (Shue) and the two begin an oddly (and sadly) beautiful relationship.

Mike Figgis, Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue take a somewhat far-fetched and risky (for Hollywood) scenario with cliché characters and create something that feels deeply and darkly real. After the first 15 minutes; which might also be the single best opening to a movie ever- we do not doubt Ben's intentions to drink himself to death. The amount of liquor he consumes throughout the film makes you part disgusted and part amused because of how relentlessly fast he's drinking it. And that is the brilliance of Cage's performance: he makes you laugh at his over-the-top antics and drinking then makes you ashamed for even laughing in the first place when you see his sickly condition and see him convulsing, shaking and dry heaving when he's gone too long without a drink or hallucinating when he's had too much. And what isn't there left to say about Elisabeth Shue's performance? She easily deserved an Oscar just as much as Cage, and you could even say that the believability of the story rested on her shoulders. Her few brief scenes with an unseen therapist are a fine, subtle highlight of the film and help you understand her character more and why she would fall for someone as far-gone as Ben.

I have never seen any other Mike Figgis film but I think it's safe to say that this is his best work. The movie is filmed gorgeously and gorgeously scripted and there are a lot of great shots. He gets the best performances out of the actors (Even Julian Sands' pimp Yuri with his campy accent is surprisingly creepy), the music he composed, along with the memorable soundtrack, were perfect and added a light, romantic air to alleviate the suffocatingly somber tone......when needed- there are some brooding dramatic string compositions for some of the darker scenes.

All in all, between the drunken antics of Cage's character, the jazzy score, and the wild and wonderful scenery of Las Vegas and the assortment of colorful side characters- there are heart-achingly intimate scenes of love at it's most desperate and it is all masterfully put together by Mike Figgis and company.

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A Must See. A Must Experience.

Author: powermandan from Canada
19 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is, without question, one of the best I have ever seen. Everything that makes a good movie is here and done very, very well. However, this is not an easy film to watch. The whole movie deals with suicide, love, prostitution, acceptance, alcoholism and abuse. But the way that everything is done is sure to impress the viewer and leave a lasting impact.

Nicolas Cage plays Hollywood screenwriter, Ben Sanderson, whose wife and kid leave him due to his alcohol abuse. His abuse grows, costing him his job too. With nothing to lose, he trashes everything of his from Hollywood and heads to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets a career hooker named Sera (Shue). Sera have endured abuse and scorn from her pimp, Yuri (Sands) and her clients. Their relationship is mostly of acceptance. Ben just wants a confidant, someone to be with. They don't ask one another to change who they are, but Sera is torn between her loyalty to Ben and wanting him out of his suicidal state.

Nicolas Cage is one of the most hated celebrities out there, due to his recent string of bad movies and over-the-top acting. But in this, he was phenomenal. Playing a drunk may sound easy to do and funny to watch, but Cage plays a serious drunk that can make a viewer cry. In my list of "Greatest Acting Performances of All Time," I rank Cage as Ben Sanderson at number 12. Any aspiring actor needs to see him in this. Then, there is Elizabeth Shue, one of the most underrated actresses ever. Her portrayal in this is about up to par with Cage. These two are the only characters to be focused on, everybody else is very brief. So the chemistry and character development is very strong. They drive this film and trigger almost every kind of emotion you have. The whole idea of Ben and Sera leading such terrible lives and ending up awful situations is very hard for some to handle, but the whole idea about acceptance and people's true selves really have a lasting impact on everyone that sees it.

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"The Hole You're In."

Author: BrianWC2230
16 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Leaving Las Vegas is about a doomed relationship because of the despairs of addiction. Ben (played by Nicolas Cage for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor) and Sera (played by Elisabeth Shue was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress) develop a relationship together on the basis that neither of them can change who they are, Leaving Las Vegas is a tragic love story born in a desperate world between two self-destructive people, Ben is an alcoholic and Sera is a prostitute. Leaving Las Vegas is basically about a man drinking himself to death while Sera tries to convince him to stop, it is just and incredibly gritty performance from Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, it is a Tour De Force from these two actors. The cinematography is just stunning, the movie is saturated with the beautiful neon lights of Las Vegas that encases and captures the mood of the movie. The soundtrack to Leaving Las Vegas again fits the atmosphere of the movie, Mike Figgis composed the soundtrack while Sting collaborated as well. Leaving Las Vegas is a dark and depressing depiction of the failure of love.

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