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‘Leave the World Behind’ Movie Review

Feb 23, 2024 | Admit One

The premise for Leave the World Behind is simple: What would happen if two families—complete strangers to each other—were forced to live together amidst the collapse of society?

Leave the World Behind, Admit One

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Trailer:

Release Date: 11/22/2023
Director: Sam Esmail
Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
IMDb: 6.5/10
Where to Watch: Exclusively on Netflix

Ethan Hawke and Julia Roberts play Amanda and Clay Sandford, who take a weekend to escape from the bustle of Manhattan life at a home-share in the Hamptons with their teenage kids. But when another family, George and his daughter Ruth (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la), arrive at the door one night claiming to be the owners of the home and informing the Sandfords that a mysterious blackout has occurred, the two families are forced to navigate their mistrust of one another as they gather information about what has occurred.

Without access to communications networks like cellular services or the internet, multiple generations must confront the myriad ways technology has handicapped their ability to fend for themselves and infiltrated every aspect of their lives… perhaps even altering who they are at their core.

Much like Asteroid City, this is another film that imparts a sense of uncertainty in its viewers, ratcheting up tension as question after question arises about the cause of the blackout and the state of the world outside their vacation home.

Director Sam Esmail requires viewers to follow events one step at a time, communicating little to the audience that the characters don’t know themselves. This allows viewers to immerse themselves in the fantasy of what they might do in the same situation, asking the same questions the characters are asking and thinking about the nature of their own existence in a world without the systems that hold together a functioning society.

Without spoiling too much, the film ends on an inconclusive note that deliberately leaves viewers reflecting on who they would be if they too were removed from the vast networks our modern world relies on.

While this one is thematically light and breaks no new ground in terms of cinematography or character performances, it is nonetheless a competently executed film that provides a tense and thrilling mystery, examining the relationship between who we are as people and the systems we immerse ourselves in.


About our Admit One Author

Isaac Albert Frankel

Isaac Frankel is a freelance writer and content creator specializing in reviews and analysis of cinema, interactive media, and mythological storytelling. He was raised in Prescott, AZ, wrote his first non-fiction book in 2013 after graduating from Tribeca Flashpoint College with a degree in Game & Interactive Media Design and currently produces content for the YouTube channel: Off Screen.

More of his work and current projects can be found at www.isaacafrankel.com