In LEAVING LAS VEGAS, Ben Sanderson is a talent agent who has taken up the bottle. He is fired and decides to go to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. Meanwhile, a pretty prostitute named Sera has started work under her pimp Yuri. One night, Sera meets Ben, and he pays her to come back to his room. Ben doesn’t want sex, but merely a companion. Sera returns to Yuri, and he beats her up for not making more money. When Yuri gets bumped-off by the mafia, Sera invites Ben to come and live with her. He accepts on one condition: that she never asks him to stop drinking. She agrees and the rest of the story shows their infrequent joys toward Ben’s impending death.
All of the elements in this story are familiar: pimps, drunks, prostitutes, and Las Vegas. Thus, the top-notch acting on all parts, especially by Cage, cannot muster up a truly original and satisfying story. Both characters are pathetic, but we hope they will reform, though they never do so. We don’t understand the background of these characters, but we are shown their brutal present. LEAVING LAS VEGAS accurately shows the depravity of drunkenness and could be a deterrent (“the wages of sin is death”), but it shows no alternatives to drunkenness. Showing illicit sex, drunkenness and other sin, the movie is dark, hopeless and devoid of grace.
(Ro, NA, LLL, VV, SSS, NN, A, D, M) Romantic worldview with nihilistic & pagan conclusion; 23 obscenities, 5 vulgarities & 2 profanities; moderate violence including beating woman, cutting woman's legs implied, spitting in face, implied murder, & implied rape twice; numerous depictions of sex including implied oral sex & many references to sex; several shots of upper female nudity; extensive alcohol use and abuse; drug use & sales implied; smoking; and, vomiting, illness & gambling