Leave The World Behind Movie Review: Julia Roberts, Mahershela Ali Bolster This Unsettling End-Of-The-World Drama

Director Sam Esmail adapts Rumaan Alam's book which focuses on one family's struggle in this distressing apocalyptic thriller. Starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali and Ethan Hawke, the drama addresses some pertinent issues that affect us all.

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Leave The World Behind

Critic's Ratings




2 hr 21 mins
Leave The World Behind Movie Review Julia Roberts Mahershela Ali Bolster This Unsettling End-Of-The-World Drama

About Leave The World Behind

What would you do if the world was ending around you? The Netflix film Leave the World Behind follows the Sandford family after their vacation is interrupted by a pair of strangers seeking refuge. With an impending cyberattack affecting the outside world, they all must figure out what exactly is happening and how to survive it. The thriller, which premiered on Netflix on December 8, explores several themes including class and parenthood in a tense and psychological manner.

Leave the World Behind: Narrative

The Sandfords leave behind New York City for a some time away in the suburbs in a sudden vacation. However, soon after they arrive, strange occurrences around them are hard to ignore. The biggest one being the owners of the house, the Scotts, return to take shelter. The sense of unease grows as they are cut off from technology including phones and the internet. Soon, they have to come to terms with what's happening around them.
The taut suspense drama has been adapted from the 2020 book by Rumaan Alam and the project has been produced by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. The former US president had named it one of his favourite books.

Leave the World Behind: Writing and Direction

Mr Robot creator Sam Esmail, who is also writer and producer on the project, creates a disconcerting scenario where everyone is unsure of how to act. However, Esmail shows some of the outside terror, while making the threat very real for all involved. Leave the World Behind is a different kind of mystery that keeps the action centered around its protagonists. But that doesn't mean that the film doesn't contain any special effects that both amaze and chill you.
Certain changes have been made from the novel to give a bigger emotional impact and it works completely. It helps with the fraught dynamics between the two families. The writer-director also does well to maintain a certain amount of ambiguity about the Scotts when they are first introduced.

Leave the World Behind: Performances

Oscar winners Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali's strong performances keep you invested as they deal with anxiety and distrust of what's happening around them. Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke's character clay is the more easy-going one of the group and the actor too delivers.
Myha'la, Farrah Mackenzie and Charlie Evans as the Scott and Sandford children also perform well. Kevin Bacon makes an impact as a paranoid survivalist, who knows the Scotts.

Leave the World Behind: Critique

The stellar cinematography by Tod Campbell is also off kilter to show a world off balance. There are extreme angles, long surveilling tracking shots, zoom ins and close up to create an eerie mood. Even with a minimal cast, the feature film displays the growing threat in the outside world that can threaten to take over.
Ironically, Leave the World Behind, which is streaming on Netflix, makes a strong case for physical media, with its continued references towards the show Friends, which the youngest Sandford, Rosie, is obsessed with. The drama also addresses key matters from race to technology that are relevant at any day. The only drawback to this interesting drama is the sequences of the film move at too even a pace for events such as these. The perplexing ending too leans on the way of hope, but it also feels a bit unexpected.
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