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Film / Leaving Las Vegas

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Leaving Las Vegas is a 1995 drama film starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue, based upon the novel by John O'Brien.

Ben Sanderson (Cage) is a depressed Hollywood screenwriter who due to his non-stop alcoholic habits eventually loses both his job and family. All of this causes Ben to decide to commit suicide by drinking himself to death in Las Vegas.

While there, he meets Sera (Shue), a prostitute, and they develop a destructive relationship with each other.



  • Bittersweet Ending: Ben is dead, but it looks like Sera has quit prostitution and is going through counseling.
  • Broken Bird: Sera.
  • Burn Baby Burn: Ben takes most of his belongings from his house and burns them in his backyard before "moving" to Las Vegas.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: The film ends with Ben dying in Sera's arms after he says his final word "Wow."
  • Disposable Sex Worker: What the teens thought of Sera.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ben, after losing everything due to his alcoholism. The film is one long suicide attempt, which is eventually successful.
  • Drunk Driver: Ben almost hitting Sera when they first meet.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Subverted. Yuri tries to do this, but loses it once Sera walks out of the hotel room.
  • Fauxshadow: The film seems to be setting the viewer up for a thriller plot or subplot, with its early chance encounters between Ben. the mobsters, and Yuri, with exposition on the latter's increasingly desperate circumstances. But then he's killed, offscreen, and that's that.
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  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The film ends with a freeze frame on Ben's smiling face.
  • Get Out!:
    • Said by Yuri to Sera to make her leave before the mobsters come to take his life.
    • Said by Sera to Ben when she comes home to find him making out with some girl in her apartment.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Sera.
  • Hope Spot: Averted. Ben never once considers giving up his alcoholism.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Ben comes home from shopping to Sera's place with a bag that has a baguette sticking out.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ben isn't a bad person, but he makes some very bad decisions in his drunken state.
  • Karma Houdini: The frat boys get clean away with gang-raping Sera and videotaping it.
  • Kick the Dog: Yuri beats up Sera when she doesn't turn up with enough money from her previous night. We also learn he used to cut her with a knife.
  • Large Ham: Ben is probably the most gut-wrenching Large Ham in cinematic history.
  • Lost Wedding Ring: Ben's is stolen by a prostitute at the beginning of the movie.
  • The Mafiya: Sera's Latvian pimp Yuri and the Polish gangsters after him have shades of this.
  • Money to Throw Away: Ben loses his job but gets a large severance package to compensate him. He uses this money to travel to Las Vegas and purchase as much alcohol as it takes to drink himself to death.
  • Noble Demon: Yuri treats Sera like crap, but looks after her in his own twisted way. He also makes sure that she leaves safely before a trio of gangsters show up to execute him.
  • Noodle Incident: We never find out how Ben lost his family. As he puts it, "I can't remember if I drink because I lost my family or if I lost my family because I drink".
  • Oscar Bait: Winner for Best Actor and nominated for director, screenwriting and actress. It just so happens to be a depressing movie about an alcoholic.
  • Pet the Dog: Yuri is an abusive monster, but when he knows he is going to be murdered, he sends Sera away so that his executioners will not need to kill her to keep her quiet.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Ben buys Sera's time for $500. He uses this time to talk to her and get to know her.
  • Prolonged Prologue: It takes 15 minutes until the opening credits. This works in the movie's favor, as these first 15 minutes tell us everything we need to know about Ben before he heads for Las Vegas.
  • Random Passerby Advice: Ben storms away from the food court while Sera calls after him to stay. A passerby tells him he ought to stay, and does so in such a way that it seems he has some sort of plot significance. He doesn't.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Second-Act Breakup: Sera and Ben separate after he cheats on her.
  • Shower of Angst: Sera, after being gang-raped.
  • Spiteful Spit: Sera spits into a bouncer's face after getting evicted from a casino.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Ben. Once he arrives in Las Vegas, the story becomes more about Sera's downbeat life than his protracted suicide.
  • This Bed of Rose's: Ben is taken in by Sera.
  • Tragic Villain: Yuri has made his fair share of mistakes and clearly doesn't like what he's become, but that doesn't excuse his actions at all.
  • Truth in Television/Do Not Do This Cool Thing: As sexy as both Elisabeth Shue and Nicolas Cage are in the movie, it is possible to drink yourself to death. And it's a lot messier than portrayed.
  • Useless Protagonist: Ben is a heartbreakingly Justified example. The entire film, he's too drunk to do anything to change his or Sera's circumstances.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Yuri loses it just before his execution.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Perhaps the most depressing version of the city.


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