Viva Las Vegas" on two dozen downers and a case of Jack Black. Imagine Elvis
and Ann-Margret as Charles Bukowski might have written them and you have
Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue in Mike Figgis' film about "The Lost
Weekend" as lifestyle and death trip. Cage plays an alcoholic Hollywood
writer who pockets his severance check and heads to Vegas to drink himself to
death. Literally. Shue is a Vegas hooker who gets hooked on Cage's
devil-may-care despair. She gives a riveting performance in a cliched role
(heart of gold and heartless pimp, played by Julian Sands), but the movie
belongs to Cage whose fierce uncompromising portrayal is as serious as a
hang-over and as jittery as the shakes. You can practically smell the stale
reek of his alcohol-soaked flesh. Unfortunately, the movie as a whole isn't
as good as its stars. In fact, it's a bit of a drunk itself, given to
self-indulgent poses and poetic pretentiousness. But Cage and Shue are
willing - and very able - to do Figgis' dirty work for him. They leave you
feeling unclean and sober.
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