Leave The World Behind Movie Review: There is an observation that Netflix wants you to notice about FRIENDS, conveyed through their new doomsday saga, Leave The World Behind. Regardless of the ebb and flow of shows, irrespective of the decade, FRIENDS consistently secures its position in the top 10 most-watched shows on Netflix. Even in a doomsday scenario where Netflix services falter, the show maintains its viewership. The sitcom can't garner better publicity, even with the morbid backdrop of a film like Leave The World Behind. PS: Who can forget that the movie's main lead had a memorable cameo on the sitcom? Leave the World Behind OTT Release: When and Where to Watch Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke’s Psychological Thriller.
Leave The World Behind, directed by Sam Esmail of Mr Robot fame, revolves around a family taking a vacation to Long Island, aiming to 'leave the world behind' temporarily. For a disaster movie to resonate, you need to empathise with the characters whose perilous journey you're meant to follow. Unfortunately, the Sandfords aren't deserving of that honor.
Clay (Ethan Hawke), the husband, may gain some sympathy with his easygoing nature and pacifist attitude. However, his wife Amanda (Julia Roberts, convincingly portraying one of her most unlikeable roles) and their two kids aren't worth your sympathy. Amanda is uptight and pretty callous for someone who claims her kids' well-being as a priority. The elder son Archie (Charlie Evans) is creepy, while the younger daughter, the FRIENDS-obsessed Rose (Farrah Mackenzie), is annoying. It might not be right to use that adjective for a child character, but by the movie's end, you might agree with my sentiment.
During their vacation, strange occurrences unfold. No cellphone reception, TV loses satellite communication, deer hound their park, and a massive oil tanker crashes into the beach, having lost GPS connection. Amanda and Clay discover uninvited strangers on their porch at night. They are GH Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha'la), who claiming ownership of the house. They rented it to the Sandfords but seek refuge due to a blackout in the city. While Clay is welcoming, Amanda is mistrustful, hinting at racism, reciprocated by the acerbic Ruth. Bigger troubles loom for them, with planes crashing, ominous pamphlets thrown from drones, and mysterious blackouts and ear-splitting sound frequencies occurring randomly.
Watch the Trailer of Leave The World Behind:
Leave The World Behind, despite its apocalyptic themes, has a contained narrative told through the POV of a few characters, which helps as the mystery is unravelled through their eyes. So when the movie drops occasional harbingers on them, it does enough to escalate the tension and creepiness, particularly seen in the parallelly played scenes of Clay driving across a lonely road and GH discovering something petrifying while investigating a house near the beach.
The camera angles go a bit crazy in these portions, going Dutch to topsy-turvy, but if the idea is too creep you out, perhaps it worked. The limited approach helps for stretching the mystery to the end-point, but if the runtime exceeds two hours with more scenes of actors conversing that lead to little character development, it becomes frustrating. Not even a scene of Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali dancing to Next's "Too Close" warms you up.
The last forty minutes intensify, as a character goes missing, and another sees his teeth fall off. Kevin Bacon finally makes his presence felt here, playing an unapproachable survivalist, and the standoff between him and Clay and GH sees some fine acting from all involved. The Archies Movie Review: Suhana Khan, Agastya Nanda and Khushi Kapoor's Acting Debut is Visually-Pleasing Yet Surface-Level Dive Into Riverdale Tales.
But here's also where Leave The World Behind goes overzealous in underlining everything about what's happening with the world around. There is a political commentary about America creating more enemies that it should, and there is playing into the victim complex of the country of how it is facing these external threats. Which is paradoxical, since playing up this victim complex is exactly why USA is creating mayhem elsewhere, including just now in Palestine. And once all the cards of the deck are out, the movie goes for an abrupt conclusion that will leave you cold and unfulfilled, and not in an artsy nice way. Even if it ends with perhaps the most cheerful sitcom song of all time.
Leave The World Behind has moments that effectively builds tension in its apocalyptic narrative, but the limited character development and stretched runtime contribute to a sense of dissatisfaction. Leave The World Behind is streaming on Netflix.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Dec 08, 2023 07:41 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).