Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

R   |    |  Drama, Romance


Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Poster

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


7.5/10
109,373

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  • Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Elisabeth Shue and Mike Figgis in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Elisabeth Shue and Julian Sands in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Elisabeth Shue and Mike Figgis in Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


5 January 2004 | hlcepeda
Viva Greek Tragedies
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.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The bartender at the breakfast/biker bar who wipes the blood from Ben's face is played by Julian Lennon, son of John Lennon. The dark-haired prostitute at the casino bar is played by Law and Order SVU's Mariska Hargitay, daughter of Jayne Mansfield. The last cab driver in the movie, who tells Sera she is a "pretty young lady who can get any man she wants," is played by legendary soul singer Lou Rawls. Another bartender is played by Danny Huston of the famous Huston actors family (brother of Anjelica Huston, son of John Huston and grandson of Walter Huston.)


Quotes

Sera: How do you feel?
Ben Sanderson: Like the kling klang king of the rim ram room.


Goofs

The checks (casino chips) in play on the dice game in particular are unlabeled. Those are hard plastic play at home chips. Every joint has the name and denomination of their checks on a round label in the middle of their, usually, clay checks or sometimes a hard, slippery composite check with a metal insert about the size of a dime. The checks are labeled for obvious security reasons.


Crazy Credits

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


Alternate Versions

LaserDisc version is unrated and contains more sexually explicit footage. First pressings of the VHS versions also contained this footage but later pressings did not. The Unrated Edition has also been released on DVD and runs 112 min.


Soundtracks

You Turn Me On
Written by
Jacques Morali (as Jacques Merali) and Alain Bernardin
Courtesy of The Crazy Horse Saloon, Paris

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Drama | Romance

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