|LEAVING LAS VEGAS (director/writer: Mike Figgis; screenwriter: based on the novel by John O'Brien; cinematographer: Declan Quinn/; editor: John Smith; music: Mike Figgis; cast: Richard Lewis (Peter), Nicolas Cage (Ben Sanderson), Elisabeth Shue (Sera), Julian Sands (Yuri), Valerio Golina (Terri), Steven Weber (Marc Nussbaum), Kim Adams (Sheila), Emily Procter (Debbie); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Lila Cazes/Anne Stewart; MGM (United Artists); 1995)|
|"The artistic direction of Figgis
keeps it honest and unsentimental."
by Dennis Schwartz
Figgis ("One Night Stand"/"Cold Creek
Manor"/"Stormy Monday") adapts to the screen the glum
1991 autobiographical novel by John O'Brien. The
melodrama centers around the death wish of
the alcoholic Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage). Ben's
a former screenwriter and a Hollywood talent rep,
moving to LV for a fresh start after fired from the
agency and dealing with a bad marriage. Still
drinking, Ben begins a romance with the Vegas
high-priced hooker Sera (Elisabeth Shue).
The needy couple don't try to change each other, as
Ben continues on a downward spiral after failing to
deal with his drinking problems.
superbly plays the drunken depressed character, who
reaches down to his inner demons to play out his last
existential hand. Like in The Lost Weekend, the
protagonist is on a self-destructive course, in a
familiar real-life tale, and can't stop his fall. In
Vegas Cage is set to drink himself to death.
makes things special here, is how easily the glamor of
Hollywood and Vegas are stripped away. The artistic
direction of Figgis keeps it honest and unsentimental.
Sands plays the Latvian pimp of Shue.
are Sting vocals in the background.
won the Best Actor Oscar for this performance.
REVIEWED ON 10/11/2015 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ