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Leaving My Senses perhaps . . . but there's more here than meets the eye.
10/10 I've seen this film 5 or 6 times. It occurred to me on the last viewing that it could be the ultimate Touched by an Angel Ben's time in Las Vegas, that is. I believe author John O'Brien thought he was living through a hallucination in the final throes of his diseased life.2 years ago
The possibility rises out of several conspicuous dynamics in the film.
First, that Ben's life was invested developing Hollywood drama prior to being dismissed by his boss, who will clearly miss his talent and personality in the office, a talent singularly broken by the ravages of alcoholism. He is good at inventing and developing "story". If his occupation had been Investment Banking or Teaching, I'd feel differently. But John O'Brien bore him with a Hollywood mind. That lit the flame for me.
That Ben repeatedly calls Sera his angel during his demise - as he enjoys the best of - and endures the worst of - Las Vegas living. It is possible that all of it is a hallucination during the final pathetic act of his life. The invention of Sera makes his passing bearable, doable, a possible goal for him.
That Sera endures the college team horrors, discuses her relationship with the off-camera therapist to whom she confesses her soul-deep love for Ben ... even the problems with her pimp and landlord constitute deep back story in the mind of a man with a talent for such invention, desperate to flesh out the reasons why this angel will escort him to the next world. In my last analysis, she is an angel divined in his fertile mind to embody all of the good people and events in his life (the wealth flashback memories, e.g.). Sera has come to take him out while steeling the love in his heart. She sees him for what he is, because that's what responsible angels do.
This is a work with metaphor far beyond the veneer of the surface dialog. It's a film demanding to be viewed more than once. Or perhaps, I'm just going nuts, have lost it and I'm hallucinating in my own right.
Either way, enjoy. 10 out of 10.
Powerful Film About Loneliness And Acceptance
10/10 Remarkable. Touching. Riveting. Leaving Las Vegas is all of these and then some. I have not seen a film of this magnitude about loneliness and acceptance in such a while that I was in tears for much of the run time.2 years ago
Nicholas Cage is Ben, a man who has lost his wife and child, throws his job away, and takes all of his remaining money to buy as much liquor as possible and "drink himself to death" in the city of Las Vegas. He has given up all hope, with no wish to live, but for one reason or another, wants a companion to share in his misery, but not try to save him. He finds this companion in a hooker, Sera, played by Elizabeth Shue. They immediately form a strong relationship based on one night of talking about their lives. Sera in particular quickly grows attached to Ben, for no other reason than she has been alone her whole life and wants nothing more than to feel that want and need by someone.
Cage won his first Oscar for his role as Ben, and how deserved it was. He was astounding, perfection, down to every single tick, the volume of his voice, the pain and tragedy buried in his eyes. I could not believe the extent of his role, the dedication and time he invested in bringing this character to life. Same goes for Elizabeth Shue, who with a simple glance at a person, she reveals her entire self, and no one even dares to notice except for Ben. This neediness is apparent, she wants to hold onto this relationship so badly, yet what makes their relationship work is total and complete acceptance of their respective decisions. He will not tell her to stop being a hooker, and she in return can never ask him to stop drinking. And it is in that factor that makes this film worth watching. To be totally accepted by those around them, to open themselves up to such an extreme.
Leaving Las Vegas is a sobering film about connections, loneliness, acceptance, and a small little island of hope that is Ben and Sera. They are two good people, depicted in a world full of sorrows and misdeeds, who latch onto each other and never let go. They were nothing but ghosts, till that chance encounter, and became each others worlds. Cage and Shue bring these good people to life in such an extraordinary way, making Leaving Las Vegas a film to be treasured and remembered for years to come. I highly recommend this film.
Amazing, and gritty performances
9/10 It's not a movie I could bear to watch very often, because it's sad to see people destroy themselves. But Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue are riveting to watch here. As a person who has a past involvement in alcohol and substance abuse, I found Cage's performance especially compelling, and after watching him in this one, I am sure glad that lifestyle is behind me!2 years ago
The chemistry between these two is really great, two people that need each other in different ways, trying to cope with how screwed up their lives have become. Very real performances, if you're faint-of-heart be ready for some strong words, and not just obscenities. Wow! They really lay it on the line. Great performances by two of my favorites.
The dignity of love and the depths of despair
9/10 If Mike Figgis never made another film, and Nick Cage and Elizabeth Shue retired after making Leaving Las Vegas, they would have done so with impunity. Both actors are superb, and bring the excellent screenplay to life with the help of some masterful dramatic cinematography.2 years ago
Cage plays a suicidal alcoholic who has come to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, and Shue plays the unexpected problem - a prostitute who falls in love with him. The only reason this film did not receive a ten from me is the voice-over technique which was tastefully minimal, but, in my opinion, the only mistake the director made. It does help to provide closure, but I felt that closure was an unnecessary compromise here.
This is not an entertaining film, and in truth, I am surprised by its popularity among typical audiences. It is a serious film, and a work of art, but fun is not to be found here. DO NOT see this film if you dislike feeling emotionally drained and ethically challenged, and DO NOT see it if you are very prone to boredom, or easily offended by sexual violence, substance abuse and the horror of daily life on the street.
This is an intensely sad film about love shared by people who are caught in the gravity of their lives and can not escape. It is also a story of redemption and respect, found in improbable places. It is NOT a fun-filled frolicking romantic comedy, but rather, the opposite, and it achieves a beauty, dignity and power almost unique among films treating such starkly real and disturbing subjects.
The chemistry between Cage and Shue is sizzling...
10/10 Mike Figgis directed beautifully 'Leaving Las Vegas'... His film resulted audacious, fiercely realistic...2 years ago
Hollywood had great success with movies about alcoholism: "The Lost Weekend" which won four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Ray Milland and "Days of Wine and Roses," depicting Jack Lemmon as a charming drunk who loses his job because of this, and brings his wife (Lee Remick) down with him...
In 'Leaving Las Vegas,' Figgis captures the chaos inside an alcoholic divorcee... He shows the complexity of life and human relationships... He invites us to use our imaginations about a suicidal alcoholic... He never really explained how his character is bent on killing himself, nevertheless his powerful message remains a very sad one, extremely difficult to embrace... The final scene in a dark, filthy motel room rank as some of the most heartbreaking moments I have ever seen in film, and surely it will leave you terribly moved...
Figgis treats his two leading characters tenderly... He never makes moral pronouncements, and to his credit, the film remains honest to the end, never sinking into sentimentality...
His style as his story remembers me Marco Ferreri's greatest international success, 'La Grande Bouffe' (Blow-Out), a black and highly flatulent comedy (that won the Grand Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1973) about four middle-aged men who gather in a well-appointed villa to eat themselves to death...
'Leaving Las Vegas' is the depressing love story of a failed drunken writer and a self-assured $500-a-night young hooker with whom he crosses paths... It is an appeasing tale of a dedicated drunk who downs entire bottles of hard liquor in several gulps... He is on the way down and he recognizes it... He is an ecumenical drinker who wants to destroy everything that remains of his old life... He fills his supermarket jumbo cart with as much booze as possible, and moves for Vegas to literally drink himself to death...
Nicolas Cage is remarkable as Ben Sanderson, the alcoholic who is resolute and actually thoughtful about his self-destruction..
Ben admits he has nothing to live for and he wants to die... He swills vodka from the bottle in the shower... He drinks greedily at the bottom of a swimming pool... He drinks, and drinks, 'til there's no more... And when he discovers that the Casino does not offer the Bloody Mary's that he asks, he explodes, overturning the table of Blackjack where he was gambling... He wakes up at night shaking so much he can merely crawl to the refrigerator and intensely swallows Vodka mixed with a little orange juice...
Elisabeth Shue proves to be a revelation as Sera.. A polite, beautiful, and sensitive blonde woman who prides herself on being just a high-class call girl... Nevertheless her vulnerable character is very puzzling for her terrible lifestyle, and her strange desperate attachment to a sadistic pimp Yuri Butso...
Sera meets Ben and inexplicably finds herself attracted to him... She soon develop a rich closeness that can nearly be described as love... Ben continues to tell her that true love between them could never happen...
After Yuri is soon out of the way by Russian thugs, she takes Ben under her wing, and attempts to fill a need in her life much like Ben fills his needs with liquor... Both share a common bond of misery and loneliness... Sera cares for Ben enough to handle his drunken bouts of coldness... She complies to Ben's own terms and vows to never dissuade him from his suicidal goal... Out of sheer love, she even buys him a silver flask for a present, while, inside, she is desperate to find some way to change his course as well as her own...
In one of the most revealing scenes at a desert resort, she drowns herself in sunlight and liquor to seduce Ben... She tries to love him, and in his infrequent getaways of semi-sobriety, he attempts to love her back...
The opportunity is shattered as Ben, without an ability or desire to change, becomes for her a tragic portrait of life without hope... How foolish of her to push him to select...
Shue keeps, all the way, an intriguing character extremely human... She is good and tender... Never tough or cynical... Her observations, without dialog, suggest just a sliver of expectation... In the final outcome, this dream hooker is the heart of the story... The Academy showed their appreciation by giving her a best actress nomination...
"Leaving Las Vegas" is pain, isolation and honesty... An unusual picture of human desperation and impotency... A study of acceptance, resignation and despair of an amazing two characters... An examination of what happens when two lovers are caught in cycles of self-destruction...
The film is extremely well written, directed and acted... The chemistry between Cage and Shue is sizzling... They are able to solve their existential frustrations by connecting in perfect harmony, and yet they are still completely alone...
'Leaving Las Vegas' has some film noir feel by moments, specially during the dark alleyways and hookers, where its neon signs are seedy, its nights perpetual, and the glitter absent... Figgis' camera moves as fluidly as the alcohol guzzles bottle after bottle down Cage's throat... The music adds plenty to the motion picture with ballads playing a large role in the odd romance... Like Chaplin and Woody Allen, Figgis molds his movie by using his own music...
In an ironic twist of events, the book's author John O'Brien actually committed suicide in 1994, two weeks after selling the movie rights... He never got to see his vision realized on the screen... Director, Mike Figgis finished the film as a tribute...