Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Director: Mike Figgis
Writers: Mike Figgis (Based on a novel by John O’Brien)
I LOVE Nicolas Cage. I know people love to shit on him for seeming to say yes to every script he is given but I do think he is a truly great actor. Yeah he is in a lot of garbage but even in garbage he is totally entertaining. But when he is in something great he really is unbeatable (Kick-Ass, Adaptation, Bad Lieutenant 2). So even though I love him I had never seen Leaving Las Vegas before, the movie in which he won an Academy Award for.
Pretty much he is a lonely and depressed alcoholic Hollywood agent who just wants to end it all by moving to Vegas and drinking himself to death. He figures it will take about a month to do so he sells all his possessions and leaves everything behind. He meets a prostitute, played by Elizabeth Shue, who is another lonely depressed soul. They form a kind of bizarre connection that really doesn’t fit into the normal definition of a movie romance.
Cage really is great in this movie and he really elevates Shue. Not that I every thought she was a bad actress, and I guess a big part of it is the role itself, but this really seems like an on screen pair where one maybe wouldn’t work as well without the other. That coupled with Figgis’s directing, which apparently was done on 16mm in Vegas on the sly with no real official filming permits, it is a very powerful and sad document of alcoholism.