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|Index||281 reviews in total|
A suicidal drunk and an abused street whore meet entirely by chance and form a relationship. Such a premise for a story seems contrived, but in this movie its believable. The drunk, played by Nicholas Cage, and the whore, played by Elisabeth Shue, do not come off as caricatures. As a result, the story is engaging. These two characters are worth caring about. They are troubled, needy, alone, angry, yet form an attachment that is the basis of the story. Setting the story in Las Vegas gives the story an even more austere quality. The lights of the strip are in stark contrast to the darkness and gloominess of their lives. Now, the movie also includes a third "character", alcohol. This movie captures the ugliness and destructiveness of drinking. As Ben keeps drinking his behavior gets more erratic. This drives Sera to do even more whoring. Although they assured each other that they were okay with the respective drinking and whoring, it soon becomes apparent that both are deeply bothered and hurt by what the other is doing and want them to stop. That's because they love each other. To find out how they work it out, watch the movie. Excellent acting, excellent story, stunningly beautiful cinematography. This is Nicholas Cage's best movie. As for Elisabeth Shue, her performance is stellar.
It was painful to watch this movie - painful because I read the book Leaving Las Vegas. The movie is a pitiful parody of the book. The background music diminished the value of the film even more, acting was at the most OK. I am not saying that Nick Cage and Elisabeth Shue are bad actors, but it seems that they didn't read the book. A lot of things didn't make sense as the movie did not have enough of details which would give explanation to certain actions and characters. There is not enough introduction to either of the lead characters. They both seem a bit bluffy and not deep enough. Camera work was decent. I mean if you've already watched the movie and liked it, then fine. If you haven't watched it - PLEASE READ the book, it is way more colorful, graphic, detailed and deep. After all be your own judge!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In one of Nicholas Cage's best performances this is the tale of a
Hollywood executive named Ben in a huge downward spiral. He is an
alcoholic whose wife and son are out of his life. Due to his dependence
to alcohol he also loses his job. Ben decides to take all of his money
and go out to Las Vegas, where he will commit suicide by literally
drinking himself to death. When he gets there, Ben quickly makes the
acquaintance of Sera, a prostitute working the Strip. After spending
the night together simply talking, Sera falls in love. Soon after,
circumstances cause Sera to no longer be under the abuses of her pimp,
and she takes in Ben to her home. They form a non-sexual bond with each
other, while encouraging each others bad habits. This is a love story
told through the most depressing and flawed characters who really
should not be together in any way at all. But the acting for the
characters is so well done that you care about them both anyway. This
really is a character study piece in the end, and a well done film.
Having recovered from the mind-numbing Heat, a supposed character
study, I was eager to sink my teeth into a different 1995 gem and I
found it here with Leaving Las Vegas. With only two important
characters, the entire film rests heavily on the shoulders of Nicolas
Cage and Elisabeth Shue, and neither of them disappoint.
Of the two, Nicolas Cage is the Oscar winner and the truly deserving one at that. He is simply hypnotic as Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic so far gone he doesn't even remember why he wants to die. His withdrawal scenes are so real they are upsetting, whereas his drunken charisma is so real its almost funny. The balance that Cage strikes really highlights how tragic his character really is. He conveys hatred and rage and loneliness and despair, and you will be so sad yet so hooked that its impossible to look away. Elisabeth Shue gets off to a slower start than Cage, but she is still an endearing, emotional character, capable of great things.
The writing is very good, giving Cage the perfect, pitiful dialogue in order to serve his woeful character, and even throws in a hypnotic monologue or two. The best thing that Figgis achieves in this film is his cruel and deliberate intersplicing of mood-killing incidents (invariably caused by alcohol) between the moments of love and passion that Shue and Cage share. It is a relentless reminder that their love story is completely doomed. Sting's My One and Only Love is all over this film, which I thought was a very good choice, in addition to the beautiful and haunting score.
The final act focuses a little too much on Shue and not enough on Cage, and whilst their final scene together was appropriately pathetic to suit the tragedy of the film, I couldn't help but feel less engaged. I also didn't enjoy Shue's constant commentary, given that it doesn't really go anywhere.
But between the raw passion of Nicholas Cage and the uncompromising guiding hand of Mike Figgis, any complaints I could ever have otherwise found in Leaving Las Vegas are completely washed away.
Wow, wow, wow! This is a cracker of a film. It tells the story of an
alcoholic in ways that even a non drinker could understand.
Nicholas Cage 'Ben', is exceptional in the role as the self inflicted, jobless alcoholic. Its as if this role was written for an actor with his zany, unpredictable and rugged way of portraying a character. He is convincing, giving a brilliant insight into the futile world of an addict, I felt pity for the character even though he was beyond help. Elisabeth Shue 'Sera', is also excellent and shows us that society's rejects maybe the nicest people to know. Julian Sands 'Yuri', gives a great performance in the menacing role of the pimp, giving the film tension, whilst making the viewer feel fear for the life of Sera.
There are a few problems with the film, but not enough to bother the viewer.
This is a sad film and I ask that you have tissues available when the end of the film comes.
One of my favorite movies and deserving of 9 out of 10.
*** 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.
*** 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
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.
I think that this is one of those movies that not a awful lot happens
in, and there isn't much of a plot, but there is a lot of meaning
behind everything in it- like a poem.
Its hard to watch, because its so sad to see people destroying their lives for the whole movie. But, I think that this is one of those movies that isn't really a story- its focused more on reality, in this case, the reality of how the lives of alcoholics and prostitutes are very hard to cope with and are extremely draining.
Through out my viewing, all I kept thinking was that this would not be a good movie to watch with friends- its not fun to watch, really (but its still good). Its also not very good to watch with your family, because many parts are disturbing, graphic and dejecting.
Nicolas Cage is hard to read- most of the time you don't know if he's a great actor, or just crazy as hell. He acts mostly the same old crazy guy in this movie as any other, so his performance is very difficult to judge. If I had to choose, I'd say that it was good. He was over the top, but that's what the role required. Also, he acted greatly in some very meaningful parts.
The movie would be so much better, if it weren't for that darn music and soundtrack! None of it fits in well with the scenes/atmosphere, and all in all, even if it did, its still crappy music and songs. Such a pity- a good movie needs good music, and the music really brought the quality of this movie down.
Would I watch it again? Maybe in 2/3 years time- if I'm in a sad mood. Its a strange and unique movie, and... well that's it, I guess.
Leaving Las Vegas might well be the saddest film that ever was, at
least for me. It is impossible to not identify with Cage's character
and impossible not to love Elisabeth Shue after watching it. And
really, I am not a drunk and my wife is not a hooker, yet my heart
breaks every time I see this film.
I think somehow, perhaps by skill or maybe by accident, the makers of this film managed to capture the very essence of man and woman, their darkest core, and present it to us raw. We have Nicholas Cage, in what I think is by far his best role, playing the man who would rather die than be overcome by desperation. We have Elisabeth Shue, playing the whore, the girl who would do anything to survive, the openly accepting woman, but inwards trying to fix the man she loves. Just send this film with the Voyager probe; aliens would actually get us.
The story is pretty simple, but the intricacies of the relationship between Cage and Shue, the wonderful soundtrack, the flawless direction, they all make this a masterpiece. Cage plays a man who decided to kill himself by drinking himself to death. I found it immensely satisfying that the writer did not need to explain the reason for this. When asked, the lead character just claims he forgot why he is doing it, but he is sure he must. That's what a suicide feels like, when you don't just want death, you want oblivion, you want the negation of your existence.
Shue's character, by the very definition, is an angel. She doesn't come to judge or force change. She is accepting Cage for the simplest reason of all: love. She hates it, but she does it anyway. You might think that there are a lot of love movies around, but they are actually quite a few. People who really love (and I know I sound like a pompous ass, but I actually believe this) accept the others as they are, they don't want to change them. Support them, yes, judge them, no. And that is what this hooker, the lowliest person on earth, without any moral standing at all, does. More than any primadona of romantic films.
Bottom line: this film is a deeply adult movie. Children can't possibly understand it. Teens, maybe, but I don't really believe that. It is a movie about souls, not people, and it touches my soul every time I watch it. Having a strong drink or ten does help get in the mood of it, too.
P.S. Julian Sands plays in this film, in a tiny role. What happened to you, man? I used to love every movie you were in!
Leaving Las Vegas. Lately, Nicolas Cage is known for his whore-like behavior in film industry. He does everything, as long as he gets his six figure salary. Nevertheless, this is one of those movies in which you can see his true acting skills and dedication to perform. In Leaving Las Vegas, Ben Sanderson decides to drink himself to death after his wife left him and he pretty much loses everything else. Which means that most of the time, Nicolas has to play an excessive drinker. The astonishing thing about his performance is that he prepared for the role by filming himself while being heavily intoxicated and standing in front of a mirror. Later on, he would then re-watch the recording (sober) and imitate his own caught-on-tape behavior. So in the movie, he actually plays the drunk version of himself.
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