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Leaving Las Vegas Essay

1330 words - 5 pages

Leaving Las Vegas, directed by Mike Figgis and based on the autobiographical novel by John O’Brien, is an emotional story about an alcoholic who rejects life and wants to drink himself to death in Las Vegas, and an unselfish prostitute who loves him the way he is. Ben, played by Nicholas Cage, was a former movie producer in Los Angeles and has obviously crumbled in the glamour world of Hollywood which is shown in the opening scene. Here Ben is already an alcoholic when he disturbs former colleagues that are embarrassed of his appearance at the restaurant. Ben is unstable and a mess when one of the men give him money and tell him not to contact him again. Ben then gets fired and ultimately decides to drink himself to death in Las Vegas, a city constructed on greed, crime and moral negligence. We are never certain of the cause of Ben’s alcoholism, especially when he says “I don’t remember if I started drinking because my wife left me, or my wife left me because I started drinking.” In a last attempt and hope of human interaction, Ben pays the hooker Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue, 500 dollars to spend a night with him. Sera is magically attracted to the loser type of man, as Figgis shows us with her boyfriend Yuri, her abusive pimp and boyfriend. This drama is about the absolute love between two people that live on society’s border who need each other to know that they exist.
     In this movie, much emphasis is placed on simplicity, spontaneity and directness, so we can focus on the true story without being distracted from the normal every day routines these characters have. A degree of realism is achieved in this movie, because the fact remains that Ben is an alcoholic, although he does drink in extremes where the normal human being would be unconscious, and Sera is a prostitute, so the intense situations and decisions in this movie are reasonably depicted. One of the first scenes is an extreme long shot of the city of Las Vegas, because this sinful city was very carefully chosen as the setting of the story to preserve realism. Full shots are often used to show the protagonists on their daily routine, such as when Ben goes shopping at the supermarket for liquor. Figgis mainly used multiple shots to emphasize the two protagonist’s interactions with each other. The two shot and the over-the-shoulder shot were used often to build a situation or emotion between the two characters before usually going over to a close up to highlight how each character reacts by their facial expressions. The director mainly used eye level shots, to leave it up to the audience to judge the two main characters of the movie, although certain power struggles in the film are shown from high angles to illustrate someone dominating a conversation or argument. Figgis also uses some point of view shots to show the imbalance during Ben’s drunken periods where the camera is placed at an oblique angle to show tension and approaching movements. The images...

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