Cage Examination #23: Leaving Las Vegas

Film: Leaving Las Vegas
Demeanor: Academy Award Winning Drunk.
Hair Quality: Frazzled, thinning. A precursor to Adaptation-level hair weirdness. 
Performance Quality: 9 Cages Out of 10.

Many of those I’ve discussed this year-long project with tend to immediately call out a few films in Our Greatest Living Actor’s catalog of film. Usually, it’s the wackier stuff, of the Con Air, or Vampire’s Kiss, or yes, The Wicker Man fame. Strangely, only a handful of people I’ve talked to even mentioned, or even seemed to recall much about Leaving Las Vegas. Perhaps this is due in no small part to the film not being nearly as ubiquitous in pop culture lore as stuff like The Rock and Deadfall, but still, this bothers me. How can anyone with an affinity for Nicolas Cage not be interested in the role that won the man his only Oscar to date?

Perhaps some are scared off by the notion that Leaving Las Vegas is some kind of prestige picture, a movie weighted down by the kind of emotional seriousness that so often appeals to the aged, seemingly perpetually dour Academy voters. Certainly Leaving Las Vegas has some of the tenets of the kind of ultraserious dramas that typically take home Oscar gold, including: the tortured protagonist, the tragic female lead, a greater focus on characters over plot, and a fair amount of indie cred for its small budget and off-kilter style.

But on the other hand, Leaving Las Vegas is also kind of an insane movie.

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