'Leave The World Behind' Netflix Movie Review

Leave the World Behind by Sam Esmail is an elegant and disturbing kammerspiel at the end of time and the world, which boasts excellent writing and a stellar cast. Available on Netflix, starting Friday 8 December.

Image Credit: Netflix

What do they have in common, Melancholia by Lars Von Trier, Seeking Love at the End of the World by Lorene Scafaria, Let's Get It Over by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, 10 Cloverfield Lane by Dan Trachtenberg, and Leave The World Behind by Sam Esmail? Apparently nothing. 

Yet, the second feature film by the author of the highly celebrated Mr. Robot and Comet, an interesting rom-com debut in a sci-fi key, shares with the four cases mentioned, the story of a sudden or forced coexistence between two or more individuals, in an apocalyptic context, or presumed such, which would seem to endanger the future of each of them, forcing them to ask themselves questions, becoming protagonists of a journey into the psyche - and beyond - which is gradually more complex, both in emotional and ethical terms, leaving a mark, imprinted forever, both in the memory and on their bodies, whose main and definitive function is the memory, perhaps of the end, or of a new beginning?

On the fear of what is foreign, on the deprivation of what is everyday

Adaptation of the successful novel of the same name by Rumaan Alam, published in Italy by La nave di Teseo in 2021, Leave The World Behind by Sam Esmail immediately distances itself from Alam's novel, reflecting on the direct contrast, initially ferocious and then increasingly softened by the dramatic dynamics, which if at first distance, but shortly afterward bring closer, between two extremely different families. who, due to a sudden and inexplicable blackout, find themselves having to share the same luxury home, immersed in the countryside of Long Island, without a telephone network and thus direct contact with the outside world.

Image Credit: Netflix

In fact, if the nocturnal return of the owner, G. H. Scott (an always excellent Mahershala Ali), in the company of his teenage daughter, Ruth (Myha'la Herrold), cannot help but surprise and thus make the tenants Amanda and Clay Sanford (played respectively by two effective Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke), who had arrived there shortly before in the company of their children, for a short holiday, far from work obligations and the stress of the big city, can only alert, or worse, disturb, the impossibility that each of the lives, concerning the use of the Internet, and thus of TV, radio and more generally of all that is communication, new media and information, which ceased due to the same blackout that G.H. and Ruth Scott say they observed and that the Sanford family has no way of verifying.

What is scarier, sharing the same house with strangers, that the world outside is no longer the same as before, or even not being able to scroll your Facebook, Instagram, or more generally any web page, as you do daily? are we used to doing?

These are the main questions that Leave The World Behind asks the viewer, through a subdivision into five chapters, which structures the film as if it were an atypical anthology story, destined however to reach the same direction, intertwining the pretentiousness and annoyance of the Sanford towards everything that is "external and foreign", hence the incessant complaint of Julia Roberts' Amanda, I damn hate people, and the sobriety, as well as the elegance and kindness of the Scotts, always attentive, so that the chaos of the unknown and that blackout, perhaps the first sign of a frightening world change, does not enter the house, where everything can - and must - remain safe, calm and free of tension, despite the suspicions, despite the fear.

That the answers are destined to reach us, to comfort us and reflect with knowledge of the facts on what we have seen, is not at all certain, since Sam Esmail, making his own the languages and clich├ęs of the thriller, which belong to his cinema-making, since the days of Mr. Robot, soon chooses to overturn them, producing an interesting and anomalous contamination between genres.

Image Credit: Netflix

Leave The World Behind: Evaluation and Conclusion

Passing through the narrative register of sci-fi cinema, horror, social drama, light comedy, and finally the post-apocalyptic, Leave The World Behind involves the spectator and its own interpreters, in a fascinating, complex, and enigmatic game of glances, unspoken, and very current socio-political implications, intended to observe the consequences of sudden chaos, on the skin, minds, and bodies of individuals so distant from each other that they collide even in conditions of absolute normality.

Esmail's film is an anomalous, yet convincing and unexpectedly intellectual game of massacre, which between moments of sadism, lightness, bizarreness, lucidity, and even cynicism, can only remind us of both Lanthimos' cinema and that of three extremely different authors. among them, like Polanski, Shyamalan, and Cronenberg, therefore conquering us and giving us a film capable of reflecting like very few others on the harm that men do to the world they live in and thus to each other, blind in the face of their own cruelty, or vigilant, therefore careless and even more frightening.

Leave The World Behind by Sam Esmail is available on Netflix starting Friday 8 December.