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Critic's Pick

'Leaving Las Vegas'

March 09, 1997|Kenneth Turan

This prize-winning 1995 film is the uncompromisingly downbeat story of a love affair between a hard-luck prostitute and a man hellbent on drinking himself to death. Nicolas Cage (pictured) plays Ben Sanderson, a Hollywood fellow-traveler who arrives in Las Vegas, checks into a misbegotten motel and runs into a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue, pictured) cruising the Strip. Sex doesn't really interest him, he just wants to talk and what he mostly wants to say is that he is set on drinking himself to death in as short a time as possible. "Leaving Las Vegas" is so marvelously put together it's sure to have an effect, but despite how hard it pushes, in the final analysis it's too much of a pose to break your heart (Showtime Friday at 8 p.m.).

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