A drunk leaves behind his life and goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, and meets a prostitute who tries to save him.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 7-SEP-2004
Media Type: DVD
This is a beautiful love story about how two broken individuals can come together if only for a short time to love each other in their ways possible.
Toni M. from GLENDALE, AZ Reviewed on 11/9/2009...
sort of depressing tragedy, but somehow draws you in to the characters who are worth watching
Leaving Las Vegas
Malcolm Lawrence | 02/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a film that is not afraid to deal with despair in the extreme. Nicolas Cage plays Ben, a movie executive who for some reason has lost his family and turns to drink, or, at least that's what he thinks. Early in the film he reveals that he's been drinking so excessively for so long that he can't remember if he drank so much that he lost his family or he lost his family so he started drinking. At the advanced stage of despair Ben is in, it doesn't matter. He is suffering so much he has decided to go to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. He crosses paths with a hooker named Sera, Elisabeth Shue, who instantly feels a bond with him. Why, she can't explain to herself, even though she realizes it IS real. It's important that he simply "crosses paths" with a hooker, because his mind is solely on drinking. It isn't until he literally runs into her that the thought crosses his mind that mindless sex could be an enjoyable idea. But Sera feels such a spark with Ben that she realizes he's not just another `john' but a decent guy who must be in terrible pain. She identifies with him so much because she shares the same type of despair Ben does, and realizes the opportunity to save her own soul by trying to save his, as his "angel," as he constantly refers to her. Trouble is though, that even after he finds his angel, he keeps drinking. In one of the most revealing scenes, the two of them are poolside at a cheap motel and Ben is, naturally, oblivious to her presence because of his soaked mindset. She really wants him to ravish her, so she takes his bottle of booze and pours it over her breasts until, finally, he does. This scene may sound tawdry or corny, but because the two actors have successfully shown up to this point just how much of a bond their characters have, the fact that booze is used as an aphrodisiac here is a major triumph for both of them. They have reached each other halfway. It's been a long time since I've seen two actors portray what real love and understanding looks like on screen. There is something so tangible in this film it almost feels voyeuristic. These characters love each other in such a way that since the hooker's job is, obviously, to have sex with other men, the element of "cheating" is moot for her, but when she comes home one night to find that HE has been cheating, suddenly your mind freezes up and you don't know what to think until you remember that outside of quickie oral sex you notice that they've never made love even though they are so obviously and operatically IN love. Wow.In Leaving Las Vegas two of the most down and out characters forge the unlikeliest of bonds and for a fleeting moment experience true love in spite of the money changing hands, money which magically becomes superfluous as their guards are let down to reveal an empathetic passion so real it keeps ascending and swelling, going for a gigantic crescendo. You'll notice that at the beginning of this film you hear blues which slides easily into jazz, and by the end of the film it has transformed into opera. So the range of emotions director Mike Figgis is dealing with on his palette go from despair to sentimentality to operatic overdrive. Opera goes for big emotions and follows them straight through the end. So does this film. It doesn't compromise. It must have been hard to get a film like this made without somebody trying to soften the story or, God forbid, add a different ending. You can imagine some Hollywood producer saying that at the end they should traipse off arm in arm to the Betty Ford Clinic so everything will be all right. But because the budget of the film was what it was, not too many people had the right to dabble with the script.This script is so good, based on the novel by John O'Brien (who committed suicide just before production on the film began) that at various times on the soundtrack when it fades out for effect you don't need to hear the words that are being said to know what's going on. I would say the only real flaw this film has is that Sera's pimp gets squeezed out of the picture in a pretty clunky way, and when he does you realize that outside of the obligatory battering about he gives her, the two characters have nothing in common. In fact even though Sera is, underneath it all, a vulnerable character, the amount of strength she has would really warrant her being a call girl rather than a hooker. But I'm nit-picking. For all you aspiring filmmakers out there, take a look at this film as a demonstration of how you can make a masterpiece with not much more than two incredible actors. Shot in Super 16mm (one quarter the cost of a 35mm film), the graininess of the image is able to evoke the bittersweet seediness of the situation and the locale, so when you do see the love that these characters share it is that much more tangible and real."
A Tragic Masterpiece from Start to Finish
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 01/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Leaving Las Vegas" is a dark and tragic film that shows you how low you can fall and just how bad things can get. It portrays a dead-on picture of alcoholism and what exactly one goes through when they've hit rock bottom. As tragic as it is, this is a very beautiful and well-done film that keeps your attention to the bitter end.Ben Sanderson (Nicholas Cage) is an alcoholic who has nothing left to live for but the very booze that seems to be the only happiness he can find. His friends want nothing to do with him and women are disgusted by him. After being let go from his job, Ben burns all of his possessions and moves to Las Vegas, where his only plan is to drink himself to death. In a short amount of time he meets Sera (Elisabeth Shue), a lonely hooker who has been through it all. An unexpected bond is formed between the two and love falls upon them that can only end in tragedy.Boy, was this a hard movie to watch, but it was so well-done and executed. You are able to sympathize with both Ben and Sera, despite the paths they have chosen. Nicholas Cage was amazing and brilliant. No wonder why he won an Academy Award for his performance. You really buy into the fact that he is this sad character who wants nothing more but to destroy himself by the only thing that can bring him some sense of false happiness. Shue is also terrific in her role and should be applauded as well. The two are explosive as a team and can really bring the house down.The DVD is fair; nothing too special. You can have your choice of either watching the movie in widescreen or full screen. The picture for the most part looks good; not the best, but good. The main special feature this DVD offers is a trailer for the film and a bonus secret page. It would be nice if they decided to re-release this in a more superior version."Leaving Las Vegas" is drama at its best. It's heartbreaking, but at the same time is satisfying. It's emotionally charged from start to finish. The writing is poetic, the acting is electric, and the directing is fantastic. Be warned, this is not a "feel-good" movie. It's a portrait of harsh reality and it doesn't go easy on you for a second. If you want a powerhouse drama that will keep you emotionally involved, this is the one for you. A terrific and amazing film on every front."
A Lump of Gloom
Anupam Satyasheel | New York, NY | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Watching `Leaving Las Vegas' can be an experience that takes a gloomy sadness to the interiors of your existence and keeps you immersed in it. As human beings, we consistently put the highest premium on our being alive. Experiencing the intensity of a despondent Nicolas Cage committed to taking his life by drinking himself to death, can trigger off a question as to what can prepare someone for such an act of self-destruction. Intriguingly enough we get no clear answers though there is a clear hint as to it might have been a profound sense of loss or failure.
Singular focus on the moribund obsessions of Cage would be gross injustice to the incredibly touching love and empathy that he shares with the lead female protagonist - Elisabeth Shue - who plays a hooker's role with levels of dexterity rarely attained. There is a very deep understanding and mutual acceptance between the two lead characters that is in many ways the true highlight of this movie. Interestingly, we see no reasons for this to exist but such is the articulacy of characterization that not even for a second does one find this profound relationship unrealistic.
'Leaving Las Vegas' is an iconoclastic love story whose control over the audience is fascinating. Such is the brilliance of the performances that you feel a lump in your heart by the end of the movie - and this lump transcends into the depths of your being - to stay there and to remind you that unconditional love exists and so does the capability to invite your own death to walk up to you - gradually and consistently. 'Leaving Las Vegas' is a movie that would haunt you for its portrayal of love intertwined with morbid realities of life.
Leaving Las Vegas- A Moving and meaningful film
vp0 | BOCA RATON, FL USA | 07/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is not for most people; it's very morose and gruesome at times, and it won't be entertaining and satisfying in the same way most mainstream movies are. It does however provide a very shocking and revealing look at the lives of a hopeless drunkard and a lonely prostitute. Nicholas Cage and Elizabeth Shue are superb portraying their characters and their skill is the driving force of the film. That isn't to say, however, that the directing, music, and screenplay weren't excellent as well. One particularly important aspect of the film is the relationship that forms between Cage and Shue. Some reviewers describe it as sincere love, however, I don't agree. Both Cage and Shue are desolate and vulnerable. The natural thing for both of them to do when they meet is to seek refuge in each other. Shue might love Cage, but it's more out of desparation for company than what she sees in him. Cage's interest in Shue is somewhat more confusing. Before his introduction to Shue, I got the impression that he was completely detatched from anything earthly. The relationship he maintains with Shue suggests otherwise though. I'm not really sure, yet, what to make of Cage.I never really knew what alcohol could do to a man until seeing this movie. Sure, a random drunk on the street is a common sight, but most people, who don't have a friend or family member with the problem, don't realize the extreme extent to which the obsession can develop. I'd recommend this film to anyone older than 17."
A Dance of Despair in the Night
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 06/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mike Figgis brought this touching ode to the night to the screen, imbuing it with the transient and tragic nature of those seduced and then swallowed up by it. The director of Stormy Monday perfectly captures the sad yet often poetic beauty found in the shared loneliness of the night two souls in despair can find.
On the surface it is a simple story of a man drinking himself to death and a prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas. But it is really a story of love and loss with a foreign film atmosphere and quality, giving it that rare depth where the film becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Nicholas Cage gives a haunting performance as Ben Sanderson, a man who has lost everything and come to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. On his way down he meets a prostitute named Sera and in their spiraling despair they discover love. One of the most poignant moments in the film comes when Cage is on the streets of Las Vegas seeking human contact and can't remember whether he lost everything because of his drinking or started drinking because he lost everything. Cage's performance rings absolutely true and deservedly won him the Oscar. He shows with great tenderness the sad realism of being an alcoholic.
Matching Cage scene for scene is Elizabeth Shue in a brilliantly realized role that should have won an Oscar. As this lonely and isolated working girl begins to care about Ben she discovers she is not dead inside, like some, and can still love. But when Ben finally pushes her away in order to save her, she realizes that if she lets him, she may very well lose this power to love and her connection to being human. Going back, however, may be more than her heart can bare.
Figgis has made a mesmerizing film of almost overwhelming sadness. This is not a `feel good' movie by any stretch of the imagination. There is both truth and poetry here though for those who know this life. Ben and Sera are like two roses; one withering at the onset of its last winter and the other finding an unexpected bud on a long dormant vine.
An incredible sountrack with artist like Michael MacDonald and Sting is used to set the tone for this wonderful but difficult to watch film. Anyone who has ever been devastated by a loss and known a Sera or a Ben, or a combination of both in one, will be moved by this heartbreaking journey into loneliness and despair. Though brilliant, its appeal may be limited and it is easy to understand why some are not as enthusiastic about it.
But for those who have ever seen or experienced a glimmer of this side of life and been shown the comforting tenderness of love on the way down, the final moments of this film will be almost painful to watch and deeply affecting. Figgis has made a masterpiece for all those who have walked away before the night swallowed them up completely and they were lost forever."