When you look at Nicolas Cage as an actor, you seldom remember him for his strong roles, such as Adaptation, when his more recent films have been last years mess The Wicker Man and his upcoming Ghost Rider. If you look past his poor film choices, you remember that this is a man who can act with the best of them, and Leaving Las Vegas is not only Cage's best performance, but one of the best performances of my lifetime. Leaving Las Vegas is the story of Ben Sanderson (Nicolas Cage), an alcoholic Hollywood Screenwriter whose drinking causes him to lose everything, and thus decides to go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. The Film is at times hard to watch, yet always engaging, depressing, yet uplifting, and it is film making at its finest. At its core, the film is about relationships, not alcoholism. When Ben arrives in Las Vegas, he meets a hooker named Sera (Elishabeth Shue) and the two of them begin a relationship, one based on necessity. The chemistry between the two leads is the driving force behind this film, as their love is inevitably doomed to fail, yet they both struggle to fill the void in each others lives. Leaving Las Vegas leaves a lasting impression on the viewer, and its effects will linger for some time afterwards. While it is no means a perfect movie, as director Mike Figgis seems unsure what he is supposed to be filming, the performance of Nicholas Cage alone makes this film one of the best films of 1994.
Final Grade: A