My apprehension to this film was strictly from one reason: Nicolas Cage. If that shouldn’t throw up red flags, maybe this will give you some evidence:
Sometimes, the crazy is too much for me, and, at times, it takes away from the overall ambiance of the film. (If you don’t believe me, here’s some more Cage faces.) However, Leaving Las Vegas necessitates the real crazy that Cage can deliver, in some varying volume.
The character chemistry between his character and Elisabeth Shue’s (her performance is amazing, by the way) is an interesting dynamic, one that requires a slow dissection, if not another viewing. The juxtaposition of two lives self-destructing and coming together in some semblance of a relationship captures the premise well and explores the thought processes in detail.
Basically, this is a story of boy-meets-girl and problems that ensue from any relationship, only that one is strategically trying to commit suicide by alcoholically pickling his liver, and the other is a whore.
Story: Based on a semi-autobiographical novel, it translates well to the silver screen.
Acting: Differing from previous roles, Nic Cage’s crazy is more subtle, with a few dynamic changes (albeit warranted and comparably pulled-back to his other roles). Shue’s performance, as mentioned, is excellent — partially since my only representation of her acting was from Back to the Future: Part II and III. Supporting cast fits well, with a special cameo from Mariska Hargitay.
Cinematography: Captures the Las Vegas scene pretty well. (Then again, I’ve never been to Vegas, so…)
Score: Definitely worth a watch (or three). Be prepared for onion ninjas at times.
BONUS: Here’s the famous Nicolas Cage Matrix to gauge whether or not you should watch his movie.