Leaving Las Vegas (1995) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Nic Cage won an Oscar for his portrayal of a good-hearted but defeated movie studio exec who decides, after losing his family and his job, to drink himself to death in Las Vegas. Elisabeth Shue was the other main character, a prostitute who establishes a relationship with Cage. Their doomed love story formed the basis for this exercise in noir Vegas-style.

I know it doesn't sound very good on paper. Don't be fooled by that. It is richly drawn, with a perfectly realized Vegas backdrop.

Mike Figgis was the auteur, having directed, and also having written the screenplay and the music. This film was a success both artistically and financially. Critics liked it, it won Oscars, and it made a lot of money. I am writing this eight years later, and Mike Figgis is still trying to prove that it was not a fluke of some kind. Here are the IMDB ratings for Leaving Las Vegas and his subsequent films.


Elisabeth Shue shows her breasts in a brief outdoor sex scene.

A stripper shows her breasts.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed 1.85:1 and a full screen version. Transfer is OK, but film is shot on video.

  • No meaningful features.

  1. (7.49) - Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  2. (6.48) - Timecode (2000)
  3. (5.89) - Miss Julie (1999)
  4. (5.80) - One Night Stand (1997)
  5. (5.07) - Loss of Sexual Innocence, The (1999)
  6. (4.90) - Hotel (2001)


Leaving Las Vegas was universally loved by the critics, and for once, I agree with them. Reviews focus on the performances of Cage and Shue, the direction, the cinematography and the writing, all of which are great. This is a very hard film for me to watch. Throughout the film, I rooted for Shue and Cage to be each other's salvation. But, true to life, they couldn't save each other. The one positive theme in this film is the way they accepted each other unconditionally for what they were. No matter how tragic the ending, the relationship was very affirming.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: three and a half stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 3.5/4

  • The film was nominated for four Oscars including some of the most important ones (director, screenplay). Nicolas Cage was the only winner among the four . 

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at only $8 million for production, and it grossed $32 million domestically.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a B-. Scoop says, "Consistently engrossing, always feels authentic. Although depressing, it is involving and even entertaining in many ways". Tuna says, "It is not the kind of film I usually like, being very much akin to "drugs suck" movies, yet I appreciated this one."

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