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Abuse of alcohol from the perspective of the user and those involved with the user.



Movie: Leaving Las Vegas

(United Artists; 1996) color, 112 minutes; R-rating; genre-drama/romantic tragedy


Healing Themes:

  • Alcoholism

  • Co-Dependency

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Low self-esteem

  • Depression

  • Giving up on life

Director: Mike Figgis


Screenplay: Mike Figgis


Cast: Nicholas Cage (Ben Sanderson); Elisabeth Shue (Sera); Julian Sands (Yuri Butsov); Richard Lewis (Peter); Steven Weber (Marc Nussbaum); Emily Procter (Debbie); Valeria Golino (Terri); Thomas Kopache (Mr. Simpson); Laurie Metcalf (Landlady).


Synopsis: Ben Sanders (Nicholas Cage) portrays a suicidal alcoholic in this film. After a recent divorce and lost employment as a Hollywood screenwriter, Ben decides to move to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. He meets a prostitute named Sera (Elisabeth Shue) and develops a dysfunctional relationship.


Viewing Suggestion: Imagine yourself as one of these characters as you view this film. Can you identify anyone whose alcoholism has cost them their job, family or friends?


Exercise: Name ways that Ben and Sera could make positive changes that would lead to improvements in both their lives.


Availability: This movie is available for viewing by streaming from your favorite device through Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. You can also buy this movie on sites such as Movies Unlimited.


Trivia: This film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by John O’Brien. O’Brien died by suicide after signing away the film rights to the novel.


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