With LEAVING LAS VEGAS, director Mike Figgis spun critical gold out of what would appear to be a maudlin and hackneyed premise--a down-and-out drunk meets a hooker with a heart of gold. The reason for the film's success lies partly in its refusal to moralize, but mostly it is the strong performances of Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue that make the story believable and poignant. Ben Sanderson (Cage) is a Hollywood screenwriter who has become an alcoholic. After being fired, he takes his severance pay to Las Vegas, where he plans to drink himself to death. There he meets Sera (Shue), a streetwi... se prostitute who responds both to Ben's wild antics and to his absolute gentleness. What Sera needs most is to be needed, and Ben needs her a lot. Figgis uses his whole bag of tricks--Sera talks to the camera, the exteriors are shot in grainy 16mm--but finally it is the perfectly-conceived relationship between these two wounded people that drew the rave reviews. The film was based on a novel by John O'Brien.
Leaving Las Vegas
Thoughtful weepie about a man opting to drink himself to death in Las Vegas from Mike Figgis. Stars Nicolas Cage - who won both an Oscar and a Golden Globe - and Elizabeth Shue
Cage went from jobbing offbeat actor to one of the most bankable stars around and won an Oscar (in one of the most predictable Best Actor battles in years) with his strong portrayal of a man on a quest to drink himself to death over one wild, alcohol-fuelled weekend in the gambling mecca. Shue also landed a nomination as Sera, the no-nonsense hooker with whom he forms a fragile alliance during his two-day binge.
Figgis' film, one of the few to show the sleazy flip-side of the glossy city of Las...
Bitter-sweet beautiful film
This is a brilliant film, which defies the standard Hollywood happy ending formula which determines so many movies. The story follows Ben's (Nicholas Cage) downward spiral from top Hollywood writer to jobless, wifeless, directionless drunk who plans to drink his way to death without anyone's intervention, including the prostitute whom he falls in love with. Nicholas Cage is superb in the role, the type of which he does best (why oh why did he sell out to Hollywood?!) and Elizabeth Shue is also outstanding as his 'lover'. The way in which neither of them can give up (alcohol and prostitution respectively) what each of them would like the other to give up is very...
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