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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When a Man Only Answers to a Bottle...
"Leaving Las Vegas" is a dark and tragic film that shows you how low you can fall and just how bad things can get. It portrays a dead-on picture of alcoholism and what exactly one goes through when they've hit rock bottom. As tragic as it is, this is a very beautiful and well-done film that keeps your attention to the bitter end.
Ben Sanderson (Nicholas Cage) is an...
Published on 6 Sept. 2003 by Michael Crane

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Film, Shit Presentation
I'm not here to talk about the movie. I'm sure you've read all there is to know about it and I do not wish to add to that. If I was judging this film alone it would get 6 stars. However the way it is packaged is an absolute disgrace. The sound is shot to hell: at parts in the movie it ebbs and flows, up and down. You can hardly make out what the characters are saying...
Published 7 months ago by Mr. Carl Kamutikaoma


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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When a Man Only Answers to a Bottle..., 6 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
"Leaving Las Vegas" is a dark and tragic film that shows you how low you can fall and just how bad things can get. It portrays a dead-on picture of alcoholism and what exactly one goes through when they've hit rock bottom. As tragic as it is, this is a very beautiful and well-done film that keeps your attention to the bitter end.
Ben Sanderson (Nicholas Cage) is an alcoholic who has nothing left to live for but the very booze that seems to be the only happiness he can find. His friends want nothing to do with him and women are disgusted by him. After being let go from his job, Ben burns all of his possessions and moves to Las Vegas, where his only plan is to drink himself to death. In a short amount of time he meets Sera (Elisabeth Shue), a lonely hooker who has been through it all. An unexpected bond is formed between the two and love falls upon them that can only end in tragedy.
Boy, was this a hard movie to watch, but it was so well-done and executed. You are able to sympathize with both Ben and Sera, despite the paths they have chosen. Nicholas Cage was amazing and brilliant. No wonder why he won an Academy Award for his performance. You really buy into the fact that he is this sad character who wants nothing more but to destroy himself by the only thing that can bring him some sense of false happiness. Shue is also terrific in her role and should be applauded as well. The two are explosive as a team and can really bring the house down.
"Leaving Las Vegas" is drama at its best. It's heartbreaking, but at the same time is satisfying. It's emotionally charged from start to finish. The writing is poetic, the acting is electric, and the directing is fantastic. Be warned, this is not a "feel-good" movie. It's a portrait of harsh reality and it doesn't go easy on you for a second. If you want a powerhouse drama that will keep you emotionally involved, this is the one for you. A terrific and amazing film on every front.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dance of Despair in the Night, 26 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Mike Figgis brought this touching ode to the night to the screen, imbuing it with the transient and tragic nature of those seduced and then swallowed up by it. The director of Stormy Monday perfectly captures the sad yet often poetic beauty found in the shared loneliness of the night two souls in despair can find. On the surface it is a simple story of a man drinking himself to death and a prostitute on the streets of Las Vegas. But it is really a story of love and loss with a foreign film atmosphere and quality, giving it that rare depth where the film becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Nicholas Cage gives a haunting performance as Ben Sanderson, a man who has lost everything and come to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. On his way down he meets a prostitute named Sera and in their spiraling despair they discover love. One of the most poignant moments in the film comes when Cage is on the streets of Las Vegas seeking human contact and can’t remember whether he lost everything because of his drinking or started drinking because he lost everything. Cage’s performance rings absolutely true and deservedly won him the Oscar. He shows with great tenderness the sad realism of being an alcoholic.
Matching Cage scene for scene is Elizabeth Shue in a brilliantly realized role that should have won an Oscar. As this working girl begins to care about Ben she discovers she is not dead inside, like some, and can still love. But when Ben finally pushes her away in order to save her she realizes that if she lets him, she may very well lose this power to love and her connection to being human. Going back, however, may be more than her heart can bare.
Figgis has made a mesmerizing film of almost overwhelming sadness. This is not a ‘feel good’ movie by any stretch of the imagination. There is both truth and poetry here though for those who know this life. Ben and Sera are like two roses; one withering at the onset of its last winter and the other finding an unexpected bud on a long dormant vine.
An incredible sountrack with artist like Michael MacDonald and Sting is used to set the tone for this wonderful but difficult to watch film. Anyone who has ever been devastated by a loss and known a Sera will be moved by this heartbreaking journey into loneliness and despair. Though brilliant, its appeal may be limited and it is easy to understand why some are not as enthusiastic about it.
But for those who have even seen or experienced a glimmer of this side of life and been shown the comforting tenderness of love on the way down, the final moments of this film will be almost painful to watch and deeply affecting. Figgis has made a masterpiece for all those who have walked away before the night swallowed them up completely and they were lost forever.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, compelling and painful, 29 July 2000
By 
John Peter O'connor - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I found this film very hard to watch. Not because it is a bad film but because of the material with which it deals and the strength of the portrayal of that material.
Nicolas Cage plays Ben, a man who is on the way down and who knows it. He loses his family and his job and the only thing that he has left is drinking. Finally, destroying everything that remains of his old life, he takes his severance pay and sets off for Las Vegas with the simple intention of drinking himself to death.
There he has a chance encounter with prostitute Sera (Elisabeth Shue) and they are drawn together. All that Ben needs is a person who will not reject him because he is a drunk and who will not try to get him off the bottle. Sera needs Ben too. She needs a man who wants her for more than just sex or the money that it makes.
Oddly, for a relationship involving a prostitute, sex hardly enters into things. The reason is simple. Alcohol is deadening Ben to the extent that he is not sexually interested in Sera. This is the one thing that strains their relationship. Ben never asks Sera to stop working but he makes sure that she knows that he does not like it. Sera cannot understand how Ben can want to be with her but not want her sexually.
Finally, Sera realises something about Ben. When he told her that he intended to drink hiumself to death, he was being more serious than with anything else. She asks him to seek help. This precipitates a string of events that breaks them up but they are reunited for a tragic finale in which both finally get what they wanted.
Cage puts in a truely outstanding performance as Ben. Watching him gave me the same feelings that I have had when watching a friend get too drunk, too often. He really is totally convincing. Shue is good but her performance is overshadowed by Cage.
The final reason that the film is so compelling is the source material. The film is based on a book by John O'Brien who killed himself as filming began. Director, Mike Figgis finished the film as a tribute and O'Brien's father is reported to have described the story as his son's suicide note.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping sense of reality portrayed here, 10 Nov. 2006
By 
sean paul mccann "mccanns23" (ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
leaving las vegas is a film of deep desperation and is a grim and unflinching look at alcoholism and offers little in terms of joy and happy endings,this is the stuff of nightmares and is a raw look at the weakness of man.

Nic cage plays ben who has lost everything he ever loved due to his dependance on alcohol so decides to sell up and head to las vegas to end his life through one mother of a drinking session,along the way he meets a prostitute called sera played brilliantly bu beth shue,and they form an unlikely but doomed friendship,at first she says he can die how he wants but after a while she begs for him to end his mission of destruction but unlike the hollywood ethos where maybe ben would listen and they all live happy ever after this isnt one of those films.

There are scenes that are just plain horrific and cage is immense as ben who cant live with his demons,simply stunning and moving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unconditional love in an alcoholic haze., 16 May 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] (DVD)
Ben Sanderson is an alcoholic, who after getting released from his well paid screen writing position, heads to Vegas with his severance pay. Where he seriously plans to drink himself to death. But whilst cruising down the strip he meets Sera, a nicely turned out prostitute, and both troubled souls come together in an unlikely romance.

Based around the semi-autobiographical novel by John O'Brien, an alcoholic who committed suicide before the film made it to the screen, this is a sad, dark and deeply upsetting picture. Sanderson and his plight has no motive, we are not fed reasons for his nihilistic behaviour. We find him at the beginning of the film joyously hurtling thru a liquor market isle, promptly filling his shopping cart with bottles of liquor. From here on in we know that this is no ordinary film about an alcoholic trying to get off the booze, we are on a train to Bleakville, stops at Love and Liberation seem a very long way away.

Enter Sera, the sweet and wholesome prostitute, who having escaped the abusive and borderline psycho pimp, Yuri, is herself in need of liberation. But can she carry the burden of both as this unlikely and almost certainly doomed romance starts to become significant? Nicholas Cage as Sanderson is terrific, very compelling, realistic and segueing from zany wired comedy to the desolation of Sanderson's death wish descent within a heart beat. Elisabeth Shue as Sera is also incredibly potent, if perhaps guilty of looking too pristine, and prompting questions of why she would be drawn to Ben's world anyway?

Shue none the less works her socks off to make Sera sensitive and believable. Directed by Mike Figgis, who shot it beautifully in Super 16 film, the film won a Best Actor Academy Award for Cage, and garnered nominations for Best Actress {Shue} & Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay {both Figgis}. Massively popular and praised on release, it has lost none of the impact that it had back then. 8/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Film, Shit Presentation, 12 Aug. 2014
By 
Mr. Carl Kamutikaoma (SHREWSBURY, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] (DVD)
I'm not here to talk about the movie. I'm sure you've read all there is to know about it and I do not wish to add to that. If I was judging this film alone it would get 6 stars. However the way it is packaged is an absolute disgrace. The sound is shot to hell: at parts in the movie it ebbs and flows, up and down. You can hardly make out what the characters are saying. Also no subtitles: an absolute necessity on ANY modern DVD. And the extras are appalling: a trailer shot in such bad quality it is almost unwatchable, and a 6 minute "featurette" obviously made by a studio asdamage limitation for spspending money on what actually is one of the all time great independent films. In short this film deserves a double disc collection set, beautifully presented, with all the xxxxs, not this waste of an opportunity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vodka, Whiskey, Beer and Nick Cage, 24 Jan. 2014
By 
Jasper Wong "jbywong" (Canterbury, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] (DVD)
'Leaving Las Vegas' is a gritty, dark, yet surprisingly intimate tale of two damaged souls set against the hallucinatory backdrop that is Las Vegas. In the gleaming neon lights of the city immortalised by Elvis, an alcoholic ex-scriptwriter (Nick Cage) meets a prostitute controlled by an abusive pimp (Elisabeth Shue) and their initial drunken encounter leads to an unlikely and uneasy kinship between the two. The film is scored with boozy instrumental jazz, which evokes the soundtrack from 'One From the Heart', another 'Vegas' movie. The choice of score often treads the line between melancholic emotion and melodrama, and was panned by viewers and critics alike.

Like the bulk of his acting, Cage's performance in the film is simultaneously overblown and emotionally sincere. The unpredictability and destructive facets of Ben are further emphasised by his unwillingness to improve his own self-destructive situation. Though the character writing is fairly strong, it is mostly due to Cage's portrayal of him that the audience is able to sympathise with such a character, and the bulk of the movie gathers momentum from. It has to be said that it's a trifle unsettling to watch a volatile Nick Cage shake and shout through the movie's more dramatic moments, and it is when he reigns himself in that he really shines. It's in the less gaudy locations and situations that Cage's acting is at its best, mainly because he doesn't 'act' as hard. Whereas certain actors really become the characters they portray, in the more dramatic moments the viewer is never really sure whether Cage is his character, or whether his character is Cage, or whether the two have just combined into one. From repeated viewings I lean more towards the last choice. Elisabeth Shue's character is less showy but every bit as well realised. Sera is multifaceted, strong yet vulnerable, and although Shue's performance is nothing out of the ordinary, it is definitely strong enough for Sera to convincingly be Ben's foil.

'Leaving Las Vegas' is a moving portrayal of alcoholism as well as an exploration on loneliness, desire and loss. It is a fairly well-directed film driven by two strong performances by Shue and Cage, but which also suffers from a badly received music score. Ultimately though the shortcomings are far fewer than the positives in this 1995 film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic. Not To Be Missed., 10 Jun. 2009
By 
G. RINGHAM (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] (DVD)
Despite this film being made in 1995 the storyline will live forever. Our human frailties.

Ben, starring the brilliant Nicolas Cage, is an alcoholic who loses his family and job. And so Ben runs off to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he later befriends a beautiful prostitute called Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue. Both are trapped in a world which controls them and there appears no way out except through the deluded snatched happiness of their intimate and needy relationship.
Most of the scenes are set in Las Vegas adding an almost glamorous respectability to Ben and Sera's relationship. Yet these are good people for whom the role of life's dice is slowly bringing them to the brink of destruction.
The string of emotions governing this film will have you laughing one minute and biting your lip the next. Director Mike Figgis portrays a no holds barred insight into the sometimes brutal world of prostitution and the self deluded state of alcoholism. Yet there are many moments of extreme tenderness that endears you to these two characters simply for who they are, what they have become. And the need they have for each other.
Accompanying this film are some great musical tracks sung by the very talented Sting. For me it is this very music which inspires the emotional content so important to the journey of Ben and Sera.
This is a DVD for both the sexes. And you will love it.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Going To Drink Myself To Death, 17 Nov. 2003
By 
Ken J (Dublin, Dublin Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Nick Cage plays the part of Ben Sanderson, a hopelessly addicted alcoholic, whose life is now on the slippery slope to nowhere.
We see little glimpses of his former self, as a powerful Hollywood movie executive. He was once happily married, brilliant at his job, and with the world at his fingertips. But alcohol has no respect for either intelligence or social position, and Ben is now merely a shadow of his former self, and deep in the grip of his own personal demons.
One scene at the beginning of the movie encapsulates beautifully the way in which alcohol has dragged Ben down, and robbed him totally of any last shred of his self-respect.
His film producer colleagues Marc (Steven Webber) and Peter (Richard Lewis) are having dinner and drinks in an upmarket restaurant while they shoot the breeze about their latest blockbuster film project.
Ben has run out of cash, and is desperate for a drink.
He spots his erstwhile buddies, and dollar signs immediately begin to flash before his eyes. He bursts into their private conversation in a desperate attempt to cadge enough money to allow him to carry on boozing. He completely demeans and degrades himself for the paltry price of a few drinks, and what’s more he realises it. But alcohol has him in such a fierce stranglehold that he would quite literally go to any lengths to get the necessary wherewithal to buy his next glass of hooch!
His career is on the slide, and he’s eventually sacked by his boss. This is done reluctantly, and it’s plain that his boss still has a lot of regard for him, but has now been let down just once too often, and left with no alternative but to let Ben go.
It’s the last straw for Ben, who concludes that he can’t fight his addiction any longer, and decides to take his own life. But a painless death with a bottle of pills is not for him! He decides to go out with a bang. He liquidates all his remaining assets, and with the severance pay from his job heads for the bright lights of Las Vegas, where he reckons he can ‘party’ 24-hours a day without sticking out like a sore thumb.
He’s worked out a budget that will allow him to maintain his required daily alcohol intake (enormous) and the occasional fling with a hooker, and which should see him dead and buried within a few months.
But he hasn’t reckoned on falling in love!
He’s hardly landed in Vegas when he meets Sera, (Elisabeth Shue) a prostitute with a heart of gold, who falls for him like a ton of bricks. (And vice versa)
Before long she has convinced him to move into her apartment, and has even given him a present of a silver hip flask to hold the real love of his life, his beloved booze. Ben reckons he’s at last found a woman that truly ’understands’ him.
A poignant scene with Sera captures to a tee the hopeless plight of the drinking alcoholic. Sera is trying to convince him to move in with her, and he agrees, but only after making her give a solemn promise.
“The one thing you can NEVER ask me to do is to stop drinking!”
You know from the start that the relationship is doomed to failure.
Ben is incapable of sustaining any form of physical relationship. In one harrowing scene by a hotel pool, we see Sera taking off her bikini top and soaking her breasts in champagne, in a futile attempt to get Ben more interested in her body than his beloved booze.
Ben’s interested all right, but is so piss*d that he falls over, shattering a glass table and cutting himself to ribbons. Sera then proceeds to lick his wounds clean!
She loves this man so totally that she’s prepared to put up with almost anything to win his affection, and will care for him no matter what.
Elisabeth Shue gives the performance of her life as Sera.
We’re never really told how she ended up as a prostitute, working for a sadistic Russian pimp. (played by Julian Sands) She is as trapped by her lifestyle every bit as much as Ben is ensnared by his alcohol addiction, and cannot break free from the ‘easy money’ she has become used to earning.
This is no glossy “Pretty Woman” type of movie, and we see the inherent dangers of prostitution when in one gut-wrenching scene she is brutally beaten and anally raped by a bunch of college boys out for a night on the town.
The movie is directed by Mike Figgis. ( Stormy Monday, Internal Affairs) and is based on a autobiographical novel by author John O’Brien.
Incidentally, O’Brien never got to see his novel on the silver screen, because he himself committed suicide only two weeks after it went into production.
British director Figgis has brilliantly captured the futility and despair of both the drinking alcoholic and the unglamorous and dangerous life of a prostitute.
He doesn’t even attempt to introduce any “feel-good” factor, by hinting at a possible happy ending, with Sera giving up the game, and Ben getting himself ‘clean and sober’. Instead he concentrates on showing us what actually happens to over 90% of alcoholics, who NEVER get sober, and eventually end up dead from their illness.
Incidentally, Cage researched his part in the movie by actually going on a series of binge drinking sessions himself, and by talking to dozens of alcoholics in clinics all over America.

Be warned. This is not a movie that is easy to watch, and to say I enjoyed it wouldn’t be a correct assessment. It’s far to hard hitting, and it’s message far too brutal, for it to be ‘enjoyed’ in the conventional sense.
But I guarantee that you won’t fail to be moved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life through the bottom of a shot glass, 27 Sept. 2009
By 
N. Dittrich (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
A truly adult film in its theme of a drunk entering a downward spiral. The Las Vegas setting is just a backdrop and can't compete with the emotional displays of the main characters. I tend to think of Nicolas Cage as a one dimensional actor, even though I've enjoyed the films he's in, but this is for me is his masterpiece. I have watched it numerous times and am always emotionally involved by the characters, the secondary characters aren't always believable, but the interaction between Cage and Elisabeth Shue is phenomenal.

It's a gritty, honest film, which doesn't hold any punches and to be properly appreciated shouldn't be watched whilst doing anything else. Put some time aside, turn off your phone, dim the lights and be prepared for an emotional event - it won't be for everyone - it's not a romantic comedy, even though at times you can laugh and it is romantic in a bitter (not sweet) way. It's life as seen when you're two thirds through a bottle of whiskey and you know that you haven't finished yet.

Not only would I recommend this film only to adults - but only to adults over 30, as hopefully nobody younger will have had enough experience of 'real life' to empathise with this 'shot' of life.
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Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996]
Leaving Las Vegas [DVD] [1996] by Mike Figgis (DVD - 2000)
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