Leaving Las Vegas

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -3 1/2

Unforgettable performances by Nicolas Cage as a self-destructive alcoholic and Elisabeth Shue as a lonely prostitute make LEAVING LAS VEGAS an Oscar contender. Unlike the one-dimensional characters in the recent CASINO, also set in Las Vegas, Ben Sanderson (Cage) and Sera (Shue) are people you come to care about. Sera meets Ben as he drives into Vegas so inebriated he almost runs over her. He has just been fired from his executive position with a film company in Los Angeles. When Ben offers Sera $500 to go to his motel room, she assumes he wants to have sex. But all he wants is companionship, and he tells her he has come to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. The lonely, beautiful Sera is captivated by this gentle, kind man who cannot bear to be sober or alone. They fall in love, but he makes her promise she will never ask him to stop drinking. Not since DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES has a film so honestly depicted the destructive effects of alcohol addiction. Depressing, gut-wrenching scenes of Ben's demise and Sera's pathetic attempt at happiness are not for the faint-hearted.

Without the sex scenes, nudity and filthy language, LEAVING LAS VEGAS would be an excellent tool to educate teenagers and young adults. Ben's drunkenness is not treated as humorous or sophisticated. He stumbles, falls down, passes out, and suffers horrible dt's throughout the film. Neither is prostitution glamorized. Sera is roughed up by her pimp, threatened with a knife, and gang raped and beaten by a group of college boys. In sessions with a therapist she describes in graphic detail the disgusting sex acts her customers force her to perform. Ben and Sera are thrown out of a casino, a motel and Sera's apartment because of Ben's uncontrollable, destructive behavior. Obscenities abound, but, surprisingly, only two exclamatory profanities are spoken. Although many lessons can be learned from LEAVING LAS VEGAS, its explicit sexual content, breast nudity and obscenities obliterate that reason to see it.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
MGM/UA, 1111 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90067

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Few (3) times - Moderate

Obscene Language: Many (32) times - F-word 28, s-word 2, other 2

Profanity: Exclamatory twice

Violence: Several times - Moderate and Severe (prostitute slapped, roughed up, gang raped and beaten; man's nose bloodied in fight; knife threats; pushing, drunk falls on glass table, suffers uncontrollable rages)

Sex: Several times (graphic, prolonged scene of prostitute with client; unconventional sex; woman has sex with man as he is dying; implied few times; no nudity in sex scenes)

Nudity: Several times (strippers with obscured breast nudity; woman bares breast for man); Near nudity (revealing clothing, women in underwear)

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Many times (woman describes sex acts to therapist; prostitutes solicit customers; references to unconventional sex; passionate kissing and fondling, once with full breast nudity)

Drugs: Continuous (alcoholic drinks throughout; drinking in clubs; cocaine use once; horrible effects of alcoholism)

Other: Woman spits in man's face; woman shown urinating

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.