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The Beautiful Sadness of Leaving Las Vegas

Paul Ambrose
Paul Ambrose
Recommended: Leaving Las Vegas
Recommended: Leaving Las Vegas

The masterpiece work of director, Mike Figgis, stars Nicholas Cage in an award winning performance as the most sympathetic drunk the silver screen has ever seen.  Throw in the vulnerable beauty of the supporting actress Elizabeth Shue and you have what is easily one of the most striking films of the 20th century.

Leaving Las Vegas combines tragedy with aesthetic genius to produce a cinematic art form that has yet to be equaled in its sheer splendor.  A plot is produced out of the beauty of the colors and the shapes which make up the nightlife of the streets in Las Vegas.  Out of those colors we first see the hero emerge, Ben (played by Cage), who it soon becomes apparent will ultimately kill himself, as he says, “by drinking himself to death”.

The finality of Ben’s intention is felt immediately thanks to the sober truth which Figgis presents through the music and cinematography of his film presentation.  Ben will surely die and yet his death will not be lost as the beauty of the tragedy is pitted against the love affair with his angel and the luminescent scenery of the city where he will leave. The beauty of this film reaches is greatest pinnacle in the love which soon blossoms between Ben and Sera, a street hardened prostitute who is soon melted by the innocent appeal of Ben himself.

As the would be lovers, develop an ironic relationship as mere friends, the tragedy of Ben’s drinking only becomes more pronounced and increases the beauty of each successive moment before he will finally leave Las Vegas.  This tragedy is not for the weak of heart or those who have ever los a loved one to this terrible disease as there is no mercy and no sugar coating to the horror that alcoholism entails.  There is, however, a beautiful sadness to this film and an award winning performance by Cage which makes for a film that will not easily be forgotten. Leaving Las Vegas is the greatest example of how art can truly be displayed on film and how tragedy can truly be beautiful no matter how dark it may become.

For those of you with an appeal for the darker side of life and an appreciation for how the ugliest things in life can sometimes be the most beautiful, pull down the blinds and throw in a copy of Leaving Las Vegas.  Rather than ruining you own life, you might simply live vicariously through the tragedy of this film and appreciate what is truly an outstanding aesthetic experience.

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