Leaving Las Vegas (1995)   Leave a comment

I almost reviewed this film for my 31 Days of Horror because the idea of a once successful man divesting himself of all his worldly goods to move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death might be more horrifying than any axe-wielding maniac.

Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage), a Hollywood screenwriter, has burned all his bridges. His bosses and co-workers acknowledge his talent and charm, but they’ve grown tired of his excuses and drunken scenes. His wife and family are gone and Ben decides to die. He burns his belongings and converts everything to cash which he will live on until he no longer lives.

While in Las Vegas, he chances upon Sera (Elizabeth Shue) and the two form an unusual alliance. Their romance of sorts depends on neither’s interference in the other’s vocation. Ben won’t stop Sera’s prostitution and Sera won’t keep Ben from drinking. Sera, a hooker with a heart of gold, rationalizes that she’s in control much like Jane Fonda’s character, Bree in Klute (1971). Cage plays Ben as a depressed but literate character and he makes you like him. You really don’t want Ben to die.

Eventually, a life on the street and drinking gallons of booze take a toll and we watch the downward spiral with hope, then resignation. Leaving Las Vegas is hard to watch. Suicide and self-abasement are. Stick with it because of Cage and Shue. They make it hard to look away.

leaving las vegas still



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