Combustible Celluloid
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With: Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Shue, Julian Sands
Written by: Mike Figgis, based on the book by John O'Brien
Directed by: Mike Figgis
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 111
Date: 09/15/1995

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Drink on Me

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Mike Figgis shot this overrated 1995 movie on 16mm to give itan extra-gritty look and feel, and the effect goes a long way incovering up the film's weaknesses. Nicolas Cage took home the Oscar forhis role as Ben, the suicidal alcoholic who cashes in everything he hasleft for a stockpile of liquor, with which he plans to drink himself todeath. But not before he meets Sera (Elizabeth Shue), a beautiful LasVegas hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who inexplicably falls in love withhim. Julian Sands appears from time to time as Sera's ridiculous pimpwho tries to spoil their fun. Most of the film follows the off beatcouple as they party, drink and talk -- and never before has amalnourished suicidal depressive been so charming, so healthy and so inlove with life. Figgis pretends to go all the way to the edge with thispotentially devastating material, such as showing Ben's twitching DTfits, but he never leaves the comfort of his own artisticself-awareness. Mostly, Figgis is content to show off his own low-downjazz score and his love for pretentious sleaze. Figgis adapted the bookby John O'Brien, who committed suicide just before shooting began.

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