An alcoholic (Nicolas Cage) decides to travel to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, but when he arrives he embarks on a strange love affair with a prostitute (Elisabeth Shue). He never asks her to change her profession whilst she never asks him to stop drinking. When his health deteriorates, however, she begs him to see a doctor. He refuses and leaves her, putting both their lives on a downward spiral. Nicolas Cage won an Academy Award for Best Actor.
One of the most critically acclaimed films of 1995, this wrenchingly sad but extraordinarily moving drama provides an authentic, superbly acted portrait of two people whose lives intersect just as they've reached their lowest depths of despair. Ben (Nicolas Cage, in an Oscar-winning performance) is a former movie executive who's lost his wife and family in a sea of alcoholic self-destruction. He's come to Las Vegas literally to drink himself to death, and that's when he meets Sera (Elisabeth Shue), a prostitute who falls in love with him--and he with her--despite their mutual dead-end existence. They accept each other as they are, with no attempts by one to change the other, and this unconditional love turns Leaving Las Vegas
into a sombre yet quietly beautiful love story. Earning Oscar nominations for Best Director (Mike Figgis), Best Adapted Screenplay (Figgis, from John O'Brien's novel) and Best Actress (Shue), the film may strike some as relentlessly bleak and glacially paced, but attentive viewers will readily discover the richness of these tragic characters and the exceptional performances that bring them to life. (In a sad echo of his own fiction, novelist John O'Brien committed suicide while this film was in production.) --Jeff Shannon