Leaving Las Vegas

Director: Mike Figgis
Year Released: 1995
Rating: 3.5

Beautiful - and still very disturbing - examination of self-destruction and dependency, as two individuals - a raging alcoholic bent on killing himself slowly (Nicolas Cage) and a prostitute with self-esteem issues (Elisabeth Shue) - find redemption (or at the very least some kind of mutual understanding) in each other's company. Though the set-up is slightly hackneyed (prostitute and drunk with 24 karat hearts and souls), this picture is anything but - the chemistry between Cage and Shue is indeed quite powerful, and Figgis doesn't intrude, letting the two of them melt into each other. I was horrified when I first saw this as a wee teenager and thought it amazing then, but was less convinced it held up over time (hence the re-watch) - this time around, I admitted I actually got choked up, which is something I rarely do with movies. The ending, though intentional or not, reminds me a little of Dreyer - the message, in its own way, is that no matter how deranged you may be, there's someone out there willing to love you. I'm not much of a betting man, but gamble on Figgis never making a picture as good as this again.