Posted by: steveonfilm | May 24, 2009

Movie Review: Leaving Las Vegas

I just finished watching.

Not sure what to make of it.

Wikipedia sums up the movie like this: “Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 romantic drama film about a relationship between a suicidal alcoholic (Ben) and a prostitute from Las Vegas (Sera).”

Now I know this movie was all the rage in the mid 90s. It was nominated for four Academy Awards in 1996 (best actor, actress, director, and screenplay based on existing work). Nic Cage won for best actor. A lot of people thought Elizabeth Shue was robbed. But maybe I’m missing something.

I mean, it’s a love story, I get it. But whatever the message the movie was trying to convey it was completely lost on me.

Don’t get me wrong, Shue was golden in it. And during the whole movie I couldn’t help but try and figure out why it never happened for her in Hollywood. Seriously. She had the looks. She had the talent. Obviously, she had the body. Every time she was on screen I kept thinking, “Why didn’t her career just explode?” Maybe it was Hallow Man that did her in, who knows?

I’m not really a Nic Cage fan (I’ll never be able to get past watching him in Con Air), but he did a good job…for playing an alcoholic. I felt bad for Ben.

I felt bad for Sera too.

I felt bad for both of them. And maybe that’s why I’m missing it. I never really cared what happened to them. I didn’t get hooked. I felt awkward too much of the time. Like I was waiting for them to get on with it and just have someone die already.

From the get go I was pretty sure that Ben was gonna eat it. I couldn’t figure out why Sera needed him, other than the weak “I can’t be alone” line she said. But whatever, I don’t have much pity for people who don’t want to help themselves in real life, it’s only natural for me to feel the same about fictional characters too.

This isn’t a bad movie. But it certainly didn’t seem Oscar worthy to me. Then again, I seem to be in the minority here, and willing to admit it’s not the movie, it’s probably me. Though, I would be interested to find out what happens with Sera.

I found myself significantly more interested in her than I was in Ben. Been seemed kinda flat to me. He was miserable, his wife left him, his writing career was in the toilet, and he decided to piss his life away. But Sera, I didn’t get her.

There was more to her I wanted to know about. You know why Ben was drinking, or at least ready to drink himself to death. But you don’t know what lead Sera to become a prostitute. And it’s sad in a way, because she certainly came across as someone who could have been something completely different had she just made a few different choices in her life.

The movie runs just under two hours, but could have easily been closer to ninety minutes and not have lost much of anything. There was plenty they could have cut out, or sped up. But whatever, it is what it is.

I’m not going to recommend this movie, but I won’t talk anyone out of seeing it. I’m just glad I got it over with, since plenty of people have said to me over the years, “You gotta see Leaving Las Vegas. It’s a great movie.”

Great movie? Not in my book.

Then again, what do I know.



  1. I was not a fan…it didn’t fit into my realm of interesting movies. I felt sad and depressed throughout, even sad and more depressed in the end. Like “Revolutionary Road”. That movie was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. We go to movies to escape reality, not be thrust deeper into it…But hey, that’s just me as well, so what do I know 🙂

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