Leaving Las Vegas

October 27th, 1995


Leaving Las Vegas

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Still of Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las VegasStill of Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las VegasStill of Elisabeth Shue and Mike Figgis in Leaving Las VegasStill of Elisabeth Shue and Julian Sands in Leaving Las VegasStill of Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las VegasStill of Elisabeth Shue and Mike Figgis in Leaving Las Vegas

Ben Sanderson, an alcoholic Hollywood screenwriter who lost everything because of his drinking, arrives in Las Vegas to drink himself to death. There, he meets and forms an uneasy friendship and non-interference pact with prostitute Sera.

Release Year: 1995

Rating: 7.6/10 (54,198 voted)

Critic's Score: 82/100

Director: Mike Figgis

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Elisabeth Shue, Julian Sands

Because his wife left him and took his son with her, screenwriter Ben Anderson has started drinking, a lot. He's getting more and more isolated and he troubles women in bars because he wants to have sex with them. When he gets fired, he decides to leave everything behind and move to Las Vegas and drink himself to death. In Las Vegas he meets Sera, a prostitute with some problems as well who he moves in with.

Writers: John O'Brien, Mike Figgis

Nicolas Cage - Ben Sanderson
Elisabeth Shue - Sera
Julian Sands - Yuri
Richard Lewis - Peter
Steven Weber - Marc Nussbaum
Kim Adams - Sheila
Emily Procter - Debbie
Stuart Regen - Man at Bar
Valeria Golino - Terri
Graham Beckel - L.A. Bartender
Albert Henderson - Man at Strip Bar (as Al Henderson)
Shashi Bhatia - Hispanic Prostitute
Carey Lowell - Bank Teller
Anne Lange - Business Colleague
Thomas Kopache - Mr. Simpson


Official Website: MGM/UA [United States] |

Release Date: 27 October 1995

Filming Locations: Bally's Casino Resort - 3645 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,600,000 (estimated)

Gross: $31,968,347 (USA)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

Author John O'Brien, on whose novel this movie is based, committed suicide two weeks after the movie went into production. Director Mike Figgis contemplated abandoning the project, but decided the film would make a good memorial for O'Brien.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: Ben solicits a prostitute who steals his wedding band. Several scenes later when he is being fired, he is wearing it again. However, the opening scenes of the movie are not in chronological order. In the same scene where you see the ring again, you also see him receiving the severance check that he cashed at the bank in the previous scene.

Ben Sanderson: Nurse.

User Review

The dignity of love and the depths of despair

Rating: 9/10

If Mike Figgis never made another film, and Nick Cage and Elizabeth Shue retired after making Leaving Las Vegas, they would have done so with impunity. Both actors are superb, and bring the excellent screenplay to life with the help of some masterful dramatic cinematography.

Cage plays a suicidal alcoholic who has come to Las Vegas to drink himself to death, and Shue plays the unexpected problem - a prostitute who falls in love with him. The only reason this film did not receive a ten from me is the voice-over technique which was tastefully minimal, but, in my opinion, the only mistake the director made. It does help to provide closure, but I felt that closure was an unnecessary compromise here.

This is not an entertaining film, and in truth, I am surprised by its popularity among typical audiences. It is a serious film, and a work of art, but fun is not to be found here. DO NOT see this film if you dislike feeling emotionally drained and ethically challenged, and DO NOT see it if you are very prone to boredom, or easily offended by sexual violence, substance abuse and the horror of daily life on the street.

This is an intensely sad film about love shared by people who are caught in the gravity of their lives and can not escape. It is also a story of redemption and respect, found in improbable places. It is NOT a fun-filled frolicking romantic comedy, but rather, the opposite, and it achieves a beauty, dignity and power almost unique among films treating such starkly real and disturbing subjects.


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