Sunday 6 January 2008

Leaving Las Vegas- The Only True Love Story Ever

Generally, I hate love stories. I dislike 'romantic comedies', I dislike films of the 'Cocktail' variety, I find the whole genre dishonest and uninformative.

But I make an exception for Leaving Las Vegas.
Leaving Las Vegas is a Love Story worthy of the name.
It really DOES have something to say.

It's not a happy story, because it's not a story about happy people. It's a story of flawed people, who find love in their flaws.

And that's where the power comes from.

Nicholas Cage is beyond hope. A Hollywood script writer, who has drifted irretreivably into alcoholism, he decides to move off to Vegas and spend his remaining money on the determined objective of drinking himself to death.

Elizabeth Shue is a high class hooker, one of the best and proud of her abilities.

And in this world of glitz, their paths cross. It is, almost, love at first sight, the deep caring of two people for eachother. And most importantly, it is unconditional.
To quote Cage 'You're a hooker and I'm an alcoholic. I just want you to know I'm a person totally at ease with that fact.'

Their love consists in acceptance. He does not stop her working, she does not stop him drinking.
Possibly the greatest testament to this, is the present she buys him when he moves in with her, a hip flask.

And this is the paradox of the film. Because each party finds themselves torn apart by watching the other. Yet to do anything, is to betray the basis of their love; total acceptance.

The ending is in one sense happy, in one sense sad.

Is it the victory of True Love?

I guess you need to watch the film to make your mind up on that.

But I certainly think so.

This film, to me is what Love is all about.


Anonymous said...

I love this film too. Cage's performance of the drunk captures every stage, every detail. I always have to remind myself though that it is a fantasy, a man's fantasy too. That you could be that selfindulently despairing and still be loved by a beautiful woman willing to sacrifice her all for you. Also drinking yourself to death is not that quick and easy, usually it is a slow horrible decline over years. But as I say I love the film, the music, the performances, the look. And did you know Mike Figgis the writer director also plays the piano on the soundtrack. Cool.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about romantic comedies. They usually don't have anything to offer. (Bridget Jones Diary) Not my favorite genre, but over the years I have found some gems, (Love Actually, About A Boy to name a few.)

Leaving Las Vegas is interesting. Cage's character starts a journey into slow death and he actually finds a little love on the way. Emotional disintegration is never easy. I like the fact that alcoholism wasn't romanticized and it clearly got the best (or worst) of him and intensified the numbness. Interestingly enough, the writer of the novel, John O'Brien, killed himself two weeks after the director committed to the project.

It is a love story and a lack of love story, if you will. Sera (Elisabeth Shue) perceives love through sex Ben (Cage) perceives it through the bottle. The two make make a stab at love, but I don't think they find it more than they just find comfort in each other as a refuge for their own demons. They accept each other's faults because compared to their own, the other's faults are light. Sometimes, this is what love represents to all of us.

Though I found the film realistic, I didn't find the film enjoyable, mainly because Nicolas Cage was in it. (He has one of the most annoying cadences.) Elisabeth Shue gave a good performance.

I heard a quote in another Nicolas Cage film that may also sum this one up. It's from Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

"Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident."

Anonymous said...

I've really grown to dislike romantic comedies...Roman Holiday though. I will make an exeption for that.

Anonymous said...

I've never been able to watch that film through to the end. Really ugly. Maybe I should try again.
After all you got me listening to Radiohead.

Anonymous said...

I want to watch this! It sounds really intriguing .... the perfect match *smiles*

Anonymous said...

Strange. I always thought the death of Christ was the only true love story ever.

Anonymous said...

Paul- It might be possible if you drink like he does in the film. He downs whole bottles in the shower.
I think it's a bittersweet story.

Do I eny him? Sometimes, yes.

Alexys- Ah, you see, for once we disagree.
To me, it's Love as it should be.

A refuge from demons. If Love isn't that, what use is it?

Oestrebunny- They put the hackles up on my back. Do you want to know something wierd, but true?
I sometimes get an unvoluntary shudder at sentimental moments of a romantic kind on screen, especially the type that make other people weepy.

jmb- I must have seen it six- seven times.
The ending IS quite romantic, I think.
I got you listening to Radiohead? I'm impressed :)

Eve- It really is an amazing film.
And yes, in a sense, I suppose it is a match that has potential.

Liz- I agree in a sense. I think I might have said as much before.

I suppose I should carify and say 'Romantic Love Story'

Anonymous said...

Touché. If we can't keep our demons safe in our mate, then where can we keep them? Conversely, love helps us eradicate the demons. Don't you think?