Leaving Las Vegas

1995

Leaving Las Vegas

Critics Consensus

Oscar-awarded Nicolas Cage finds humanity in his character as it bleeds away in this no frills, exhilaratingly dark portrait of destruction.

90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 52

85%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 56,473
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Movie Info

"We both know that I'm a drunk and you're a hooker," Ben reminds Sera. The unusual twist in this critically acclaimed drama is the lovers' mutual agreement not to try to change one another. Nick Cage won the "Best Actor" Oscar as a depressive alchoholic determined to drink himself to death.

Cast

Nicolas Cage
as Ben Sanderson
Graham Beckel
as Bartender
R. Lee Ermey
as Conventioneer
David Brisbin
as Landlord
Xander Berkeley
as Cynical Cabbie
Lou Rawls
as Concerned Cabbie
Albert Henderson
as Man at Strip Bar
Steven Weber
as Marc Nussbaum
Kim Adams
as Sheila
Stuart Regen
as Man at Bar
Al C. Henderson
as Man at Strip Bar
Shashi Bhatia
as Hispanic Prostitute
Carey Lowell
as Bank Teller
Anne Lange
as Business Colleague
Thomas Kopache
as Mr. Simpson
Vincent Ward
as Business Man No. 1
French Stewart
as Business Man No. 2
Lucinda Jenney
as Weird Woman
Mike Figgis
as Mobster No. 1
Waldemar Kalinowski
as Mobster No. 2
Ed Lauter
as Mobster No. 3
David Kriegel
as Hotel Manager
Bill Thompson
as Midwest Man at Poolside
Marek Stabrowski
as Pawn Shop Owner
Mariska Hargitay
as Hooker at Bar
Danny Huston
as Barman No. 2
Shawnee Smith
as Biker Girl
Paul Quinn
as Biker Guy
Julian Lennon
as Bartender in Biker Bar
Tracy Thorne
as Waitress at Mall
Bob Rafelson
as Man at Mall
Susan Barnes
as Desk Clerk
Michael A. Goorjian
as College Boy No. 1
Davidlee Willson
as College Boy No. 3
Sergio Premoli
as Stetson Man at Casino
Gordon Michaels
as Security Guard
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News & Interviews for Leaving Las Vegas

Critic Reviews for Leaving Las Vegas

All Critics (52) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (5)

Audience Reviews for Leaving Las Vegas

  • Apr 22, 2015
    Why do so many people like this movie? It's awful! To be fair to Nic Cage, his acting isn't bad, but he sure as hell didn't deserve to win an Oscar for his performance. And the ending is probably one of the worst I've ever seen in a film. Do not see this piece of shit.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 17, 2015
    An awfully bleak and depressing drama that doesn't offer us any door or way in to connect with a deplorable alcoholic who only wants to die and a pitiable prostitute in need of his love - and her interview scenes are just intrusive, unnecessary and heavy-handed like most of the script.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 27, 2014
    They always say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but this time, what happens in Vegas is finally breaking out, baby. Seriously though, Nicolas Cage is an alcoholic hanging out with a prostitute in Las Vegas, and that's... about right. No, that's all kinds of right, because something that crazy sounds like something that anyone would do in Vegas, as well as something along the lines of something that Cage would do anywhere. Well, this was still enough of a stretch for Cage to get the man an Oscar, probably because the Academy didn't realize back in 1995 that he would kind of go on to squander the honor with plenty of real-life craziness, although that's not to say that I didn't still thoroughly enjoy Cage's performance. I probably would have enjoyed it more if, he wasn't matched by Elizabeth Shue, not in this film, but in real-life right now. I presume Shue is herself something of an alcoholic, because while she's not turning out to be the big star she hoped she would be, Cage just keeps getting questionable work in which he does the same thing, only, you know, with much less acting material. Wow, working a little harder really does seem to get Cage and, by extension, a film with Cage a pretty fair distance, though not so far that you can past the film's own issues. In so many ways, the film tries so hard to be unique, so much so that it all of the overt efforts to freshen things up tend to overshadow familiarity, but not wholly, for although this particularly interpretation of formulaic subject matter has plenty of inspiration to it, it's hard to completely disregard certain tropes to storytelling and even characterization. There's something a little too recognizable to the development of such characters as the eccentric alcoholic or the gold-hearted hooker, yet still not recognizable enough, as characterization and other forms of narrative development feel, not so much undercooked, but, if you will, uneven, underselling certain realist traits in order to thin out dynamicity to human depths, while overselling many histrionic traits in order to bloat romanticism. In other words, underdevelopment limits the layers to the depth of the narrative, and histrionics make it even more difficult to buy into questionable character traits and melodramatic conflicts, so as a character study, in a lot of ways, this drama is pretty messy, at least when it comes to Mike Figgis' script. Most every other aspect to the telling of this story is strong enough to thoroughly endear you to the questionably drawn melodrama, and really, even Figgis' script has a lot to it worth commending, maybe even praising, but characterization and dramatic depth remains thinned out, while other plotting elements go bloated, with excess material and meandering filler that quickly get to be repetitious, maybe even focused, particularly when the questionable story structuring devolves into being borderline abstractionist. What is not all that talked about is the fact that this is actually something of an art drama that has plenty of substance, but still has a tendency to get carried away with artistry, expressed through anything from a near-ethereal atmosphere, near-trippy visuals and stylish filming and editing, to an offbeat, intentionally disjointed narrative style that would be easier to get over if it was more realized. The film can't fully figure out the degree to which is utilizes its overblown artistic license, yet too often, that license is abused, maybe not to the point of plaguing the final product with a sense of pretense, but certainly to the point of having the final product get overambitious with its frantic storytelling style, thin characterization and melodrama, until finally collapsing as underwhelming. If the film was to settle down its questionable moves, then it would have rewarded pretty thoroughly, maybe even stood out, yet take that comment as more reflective of just how inspired the strengths are in this frequently flawed art melodrama, including certain stylistic ones. The drama thrives on style, and while storytelling style is often questionable, other forms of style are perhaps consistently impressive, with visual style delivering on plenty of nifty and dynamic shots, complimented by cinematography by Declan Quinn which has a certain grime that captures the drama's bleakness, while still containing enough polish to compliment the dazzle of a Vegas setting that is itself complimentary of the groovy coloration to the film's tone that is further sold by an excellent jazz, swing and classic pop soundtrack. Yes, even musical style flavors things up, whether it feature the aforementioned lyrical tunes, or feature an original score by Mike Figgis that, I must say, is pretty outstanding, with tightly well-arranged jazzy compositions, as well as minimal classical pieces that are truly haunting, with a certain atmospheric warmth to it that transports you into the film's most effective moments as an art piece and drama. Needless to say, it's Figgis' directorial orchestration which really sells style in the context of substance as much as it can, for although Figgis gets way too carried away as an artistic storyteller, when his efforts go realized, stylish meditativeness draws you into the environment which is pretty prominently played upon, especially when dramatic heights come into play, resonating through a tastefully tender play on the haunting visual and musical style. Gritty, human and all around pretty profound in certain areas, this drama has moments - from moments of effectively sentimental breakthrough in the characters' personal and interactive shifts, to an admittedly disturbing final act - of realization to directorial storytelling that are often strong and sometimes downright outstanding, and while they're certainly few and far between in a final product that is generally kind of underwhelming, they still stand, reflecting what could have been a more solid interpretation of pretty solid subject matter. A meditation upon refusal to abate from self-destruction during the building of a meaningful, but rocky relationship, this film takes on a worthy, if familiar story, and not especially well, at least when it comes to a script by Figgis that is unevenly characterized, melodramatic and overblown, structurally and stylistically, yet still has elements to it that drive the heart of this drama, through certain cleverness, as well as an audacious attention to graphic content, both vulgarly reflective of grimy themes, and intensely reflective of heavy drama. There's a lot of ambition to this gritty drama, and although it's overblown to the point of being questionable, it begets certain inspiration in the offscreen performances, even if it's not as consistently effective as the onscreen performances, most every one of which is pretty solid, especially those by the leads, with the lovely Elisabeth Shue capturing the sense of frustration and revelation in a woman who finds a true connection with a human being she might not be able to tolerate watching fall apart, while leading man Nicolas Cage really stands out, not just with a trademark loony charisma that sells the over-the-top eccentricities of the Ben Sanderson character as well as it can, but with an startling anxiety to his physical and emotional acting that gives you a sense of mental and medical deterioration to a broken man looking to die as he lived: as an addict. Cage's remarkable performance is utterly devastating in its raw intensity, and if you have any doubt about the man's abilities as an actor, this film is an essential viewing, and while I very much wish that I could say that the project is just that when you look at it as more than just a vehicle for phenomenal acting, rather than an uneven and dramatically and artistically overblown pseudo-mess of a melodrama, the moments of considerable inspiration are well worth waiting for, even if the moments between them require plenty of patience. When it is, in fact, finally time to leave, conventions are the far from the biggest thing you have to worry about in storytelling which goes plagued with uneven characterization, melodrama, repetitious structural excess, and questionable and even disjointed abstractionism to artistry, until the final product fails to achieve a rewarding status that it comes close to achieving on the wings of the haunting cinematography, colorful song soundtrack, beautiful score and gritty story - brought to life by heartfelt direction, audacious writing and sensational performances, particularly the soaring one by Nicolas Cage - that secure "Leaving Las Vegas" as a compelling and sometimes powerful drama, despite only coming to the brink of rewarding. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jul 22, 2013
    I've never been the biggest Nicolas Cage fan. In fact, I think he's largely been awful. Awful but entertaining. But if I'm going to be a fair man, and I am, I must give him credit for his performance in this movie. Was it Oscar-worthy? Quite frankly I think Elisabeth Shue did a better job, but sometimes acting is more about what you don't say than you DO say and that is where Cage's performance succeeds. He manages to tell this character's story without really explicitly saying what made him the way he is. It is implied, in some scenes, that something may have happened to his son and that's what made him the way he is. But they never tell you, so instead you focus more on the character's actions rather than what happened in his past that made him this way. Another thing Cage succeeds at is physically making this character look as horrible as possible. Granted some of that is the make-up, but his body presence gives off a vibe of complete and utter loss of hope. He is set on drinking himself to death and his body language reflects that. It's obvious that the characters, when pursuing a relationship, the fact that these people were never going to change who they were meant the whole relationship was doomed to failure right from the start. It is a tragic and depressing love story because you do wish for these characters to be able to solve whatever issues they have and at least have a real relationship based on love instead of a relationship based on dependence. But, again, the whole relationship is doomed right from the start. The writing is excellent, while it is a depressing story, Ben and Sera's relationship is complex and believable. Even if the outline of the characters is a bit generic, drunk writer meets hooker with a heart of gold. Thankfully the writing and the acting overcome these issues. Would I say this is Nicolas Cage's best performance I've seen? I think that would be highly likely and I'm glad to give him the credit he so justly deserves for his performance here. But he also has a great leading lady in Elisabeth Shue and an incredible script to work with. Great movie here, depressing as hell, but still a damn great film.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer

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