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Home > ‘Leave the World Behind’ (2023): A Review

‘Leave the World Behind’ (2023): A Review

‘Leave the World Behind’ (2023): A Review

Disastrous and Fantastic in the World

The Sandford family just wants a few days away from the hustle and bustle of the city and a few days away from the daily grind of work. When is a better time than now? However, they are not at their lux rental home long before mysterious events begin to occur. Then, two strangers show up on their doorstep, and it is only downhill from there. The world will never be the same. Director/writer Sam Esmail directed the film, and Esmail Corp., Higher Ground Productions, and Netflix produced it. Leave the World Behind was released on Netflix on December 8, 2023.  

Oh, The Devastation

Julia Roberts stars as Amanda Sanford, and her first monologue is startling in its crudeness. Most movies, even those the audience knows will end in tragedy, start out harmless, safe, or benign. But this attitude by the main character creates a stark contrast that helps an audience member feel the wariness and danger in the air. It’s jarring. It is important to mention the fact that Barack and Michelle Obama executive-produced this film. Do they know something the audience doesn’t know about the future of the United States? It is a possibility. It is evident from the beginning that this film is different from most. Similar to the recent film Don’t Look Up (2021), Leave the World Behind looks at the possibilities in an uncertain and alarming possible future the world now faces in reality. With politicians making a play for fascism, freedoms being removed left and right, and international threats all over the world, this film speaks of fears faced by Americans in these truly uncertain times. 

Another interesting aspect is that the abstract painting in the living room changes during the film. This painting resembles a psychological test, and it remains to be seen whether this was a mistake during filming or a purposeful message, as so many things appear to be. The animals behave strangely. Are they trying to send the characters and the audience a message? Is this how animals would behave in the midst of humans behaving badly, or is it a metaphor for something larger? The Teslas are taken over. Is this just another possible outcome of an enemy taking over, or is this a hint at what horrors can occur when AI is given too much power? There is so much to unpack in this film. The pacing and tone are en pointe and spine-tingling, meant to make the audience squirm in their comfy couches. The cinematography is dazzling in this film, as perspectives of a close-up into a deer’s eyes, a dreadfully close look at a big ship, and a bird’s-eye view over a shed in the forest are used to disorient the audience. It is all painfully effective.

‘Leave the World Behind’ (2023): A Review

The Remarkable and Eye-Opening Animal Behaviors 

The actors in this film are top-tier, including Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Myha’la, and the indelible Kevin Bacon. Julia Roberts (Amanda Sanford), star of celebrated films such as Pretty Woman (1990) and My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997), stars, and her role is the most dominant. Amanda Sanford is an easily angered and untrusting wife and mother who, in her own words, hates people. Hawke plays happy-go-lucky husband and father, Clay Sanford. Mahershala Ali stars as G.H.Scott. Scott is a kind, well-meaning husband, father, and homeowner who does his best to make the best of a horrifying situation. The relationship between Amanda and G.H. is extraordinary, as Amanda is hostile toward G.H. as he works to survive and protect his family. The way the two actors play off of each other, with undercurrents of racism complicating the plot line, helps to make the movie gritty and real. 

Myha’la plays the smart, sarcastic daughter of G.H., and she highlights the element of racism shown. Honorable mention goes to actress Farrah Mackenzie, who plays Rose Sanford. Rose is the young teen Sanford obsessed with the TV series Friends. Several of the plot points revolve around the idea that Rose can only think of finishing the beloved series rather than worrying about the terror going on around her family. Still, she notices details that the others ignore, feeling invisible, all the while preoccupied with not being able to finish the series because the internet is not working. It all makes her seem like a walking, talking contradiction amid an already nebulous situation.    

We May Never Know the Truth 

There are a plethora of outlandish theories about this movie all over the internet, but maybe that’s the point. Considering the current political climate, if not for any other reason, this film is great for its chilling future predictions. If it is all possible, it’s the kind of world that could have the worst of consequences. If the film is all a result of a brilliant writer’s imagination and a horror-filled nightmare, boy, Esmail has a future ahead of him. 

Stream Leave the World Behind on Netflix now!

‘Leave the World Behind’ (2023): A Review

Leave the World Behind (2023) Official Netflix Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Elke Simmons' writing portfolio includes contributions to The Laredo Morning Times, Walt Disney World Eyes and Ears, Extinction Rebellion (XR) News/Blog, and Dead Talk News.
Cailen Fienemann is a current student at Le Moyne College pursuing her BA in English and Communications with a film studies minor and a creative writing concentration.  Though uncertain about her career end-goals, any job that allows her to write is a cherished one indeed.