Running time: 111 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 19th January 1996
Watched on Sky+ Friday 11th March 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I heard that this is the film that Nicolas Cage actually does some proper acting, thinking it was just another urban legend I sceptically turned on and watched. What do you know? Some urban legends are actually true! Based on a novel by John O'Brien, it’s a love story, but a love story with a twist. More of that later, here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please run down to the store and get another bottle of vodka while I write the next paragraph).
Having lost his job and his wife through drinking, alcoholic Ben Sanderson sells everything he owns and decides to go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. He finds a cheap motel and goes for a drive. He almost hits a young woman, a prostitute called Sera. The next day he propositions her and they end up spending the night together, just talking. Her pimp, Yuri, is not pleased that she has not come back with very much money and sends her out the following night. She looks for, and eventually finds, Ben and invites him over to her place. This is just the beginning of a relationship that will take Sera on quite a rollercoaster ride of emotions. I won’t say any more for fear of bringing the wrath of the spoiler police.
I first have to say what a truly excellent script this is, some really great dialogue and a really well made film. The soundtrack is very good too, featuring plenty of songs performed by Sting in a cocktail lounge style. There’s even a song co-written and performed by Nicolas Cage! Talking of which, he put in a truly stunning performance that fully deserved the Best Actor Oscar that year. I also thought Elisabeth Shue was exceptional as well, she fully deserved all the nominations and awards she won for this part. I will also give an honourable mention to Julian Sands as Yuri, whose performance was good, but maybe overshadowed by the other two.
So, if we add together the soundtrack, the script and the performances, we’ve got a really great film. Well, it is great, but there are periods where we lose sight of Ben and concentrate on Sera which I found a little distracting. I’d have liked to have seen a few little cut scenes of Ben interspersed so we didn’t lose track of him while telling Sera’s story. Having said that, it’s still a really great film and one I would happily watch again… Highly recommended.
My score: 8.8/10
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0113627/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/leaving_las_vegas/