Not clear to me what the big deal with this movie is. Almost no plot (outside the 'hooker loses pimp; pimpless, gets abused'--wow, I've never heard that before); and Nicholas Cage's "complex, multi-layered performance" consists of demonstrating love while drunk by hitting on every female he meets.
I mean, ok, the story is pleasingly dark, but that "story" can be summarized in one sentence, and in fact is summarized in that one sentence in every review I've seen of it. Cage's character may be an accurate representation of a person descending into something beyond alcoholism, but Shue's character is unlikely to be an accurate representation of a Las Vegas prostitute. (Also, we should make up a Hollywood-cliche drinking game. Look, a hooker with a heart of gold: drink.)