‘I don’t remember if I started drinking because my wife left me or my wife left me ‘cause I started drinking!’
On the surface ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ is a cliché film about Ben, an alcoholic who came to Las Vegas to drink himself till death and Sera, a street hooker whose crumbling existence and loneliness paved a way to share company of this equally lonely man. Why Ben is drinking to such self destructive way is kept deliberately an enigma in the film. Though we got a clue in a scene where under drunken state he messed up at casino joint. Its difficult to say who’s angel to whom in their screwed up existence as both of them mutually accepted each other for who they’re and they don’t expect each other to change. But out of that cliché comes a soul stirring film which is like celebrating sadness or witnessing an opera. There are three men who deserves applaud for breaking that cliché- the lead pair of Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue and the director, screenplay writer and composer of an intoxicating jazz score for the film- Mike Figgis.
When we talk about method actors of
, most of the time we ended up with Brando, Pacino, De’Niro or Nicholson; and here is the actor who did serious research for his alcoholic addicted role. Cage said, ‘(Pablo Picasso) said that art is lie that tells the truth. What if you just want to tell the truth and not lie about it?’ To play his role of alcoholic, he went to Dublin for two weeks drinking binge for this role, he drank alcohol to the limit and got a friend who videotaped his body language and behavior, so that he could study the footage later. The number of awards showered upon Nicolas Cage for his performance in this film, including Oscar and Golden Globe trophies for Best actor are all deserving ones without a doubt. Hollywood
Elisabeth Shue’s act of prostitute is something so graceful that even besides her skimpy clothes, skin show, she maintained her character with uncorrupt soul. She’s smart street hooker who knows how to perform the exact fantasy to his customers for few hours to get the bucks she wants and yet her existence was trapped by a paranoiac and exploitative pimp who sexually and physically abuse her. Much of her internal reality and subtle relationship with Ben is expressed through monologues on close ups. Her act is equally award deserving one and she won Golden Globe trophy too, however Oscar went to another deserving nominee Susan Sarandon for 'Dead Man Walking'.
Yet ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ is not the best film about a severe alcoholic addiction that brought the protagonist to self doom; one has to watch that in Billy Wilder’s one of the most underrated classic ‘The Lost Weekend’. But even though it’s so special film because in the history of Hollywood there’s nobody who dared and performed the alcoholic act to this level and this height as Nicolas Cage and because David Lynch referred Cage as ‘jazz musician of acting’.Period.