Thursday, July 07, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)

...yes as in permanently...

Genre: Drama Romance (USA, France, UK)

Starring: Nicholas Cage (Wild At Heart; Lord Of War), Elizabeth Shue (The Saint; Cocktail)

Directed By: Mike Figgis (Cold Creek Manor; Timecode)

Overview: A raging alcoholic gets fired and decides that he is going to drink himself to death, in Las Vegas, where he meets a prostitute. Their romance is anything but normal.

Acting: The people who tell me that Nicholas Cage is a bad actor haven't seen this. Most likely they've seen such great hits as Vampire's Kiss, (which HAS it's merit!). When I first saw this I thought Shue was one of the sexiest women in Hollywood, and I can tell you her portrayal is grand. The direction and the chemistry is awesome.
Rating: 9

Cinematography: The images are nothing spectacular, though as expected we get those pans across the skyscape and over the vast city, we see the casino dice and the wayward gamblers, crappy hotel rooms. Unfortunately it's more like that was thrown in because it was expected, needed. Yes, the mood is properly set by these professional scenes, but the settings and the look aren't really what you're coming for.
Rating: 7

Script: The writing had to be good to convey the sheer despair that these people are experiencing. At the same time they have to show the happy veneer of a mask that they're both putting forth, while letting each other know that this is more truth than both of them can handle. Brilliantly written, this script however does show signs of a dated past. In that way that Do The Right Thing may have been terrific and poignant, a few scenes have since production almost become rote, and though tragic, are predictable, like the aforementioned Do the Right Thing. Tragic can't get through to the audience without a good script. This does it.
Rating: 8

Plot: The story is one of my favorites:Tragedy. Good movies don't necessarily all end in death though, there's still surprises. Know going in that this is bleak, but understand the purpose behind it, explore the fact that these two people met each other too late, though never would have run into each other save in a place where despair was the order of the day, and bask in the tale that unfolds. Great to the end, and that scene where they go on the weekend retreat...Amazing.
Rating: 9

Mood: The mood is a little dated. Sting's jazz crooning is the entire soundtrack and by that I don't even mean an album's worth, I'm talking a few select songs. It may have been on purpose, to show a solid continuity, but no. This use of score ain't Requiem for a Dream, and certainly no Eyes Wide Shut. Drunk, whore, gambler, lush, pimp and victim, despair and dark fate however, are well maintained throughout.
Rating: 7

Something worth having is something worth paying for...

Overall Rating: 80% (A Tragic Hit...)

Aftertaste: Sure in hindsight, this may be a little dated, a little predictable, but it's still Top 5 tragic films in my books. I'm glad I own it, and though I won't watch it endlessly, it will be something deep to show someone from time to time. One of those films that helps put things into perspective when your car gets broken into or you lose your cellphone or your wallet. It's one of those tragedies that opens your eyes to suffering on a realistic, human scale, without all the high art and big budget. Like The Celebration, they try and keep it simple, common... And it works.