“Leave the World Behind” Movie Review: A Thrilling Tale of Uncertainty and Survival


“Leave the World Behind” is a film adaptation of Ran Alam’s novel, ” Leave The World Behind” skillfully directed by Sam Esmail. The novel was published in 2020.

Unveiling a Mysterious Catastrophe:

The story of the film centers around a group of New Yorkers who unexpectedly find themselves in the midst of a catastrophic event while vacationing. Alam’s novel kept readers guessing about the cause of the disaster, and the film masterfully maintains this suspense. As tensions rise and expectations are shattered, the audience is left with an unsettling feeling, emphasizing the film’s ability to evoke lingering emotions.

A Unique Setting and Engaging Characters:

The movie introduces Amanda and Clay Sandford, played by Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke, respectively. Amanda, an advertising executive, and Clay, an English and media studies professor, enjoy a comfortable life in Brooklyn. Seeking solace from the world’s chaos, they rent a house in a remote location. The setting provides an intriguing backdrop as the characters grapple with their own fears and emotions.

Twists and Turns:

The plot takes an unexpected turn when a man, portrayed by Mahershala Ali, and his daughter arrive on the doorstep, claiming ownership of the house. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that something far more sinister than a blackout is transpiring. Esmail’s direction highlights the complexities of the situation, intertwining elements like racial tension, class divisions, and conspiracy theories. The film delves into societal issues, presenting a stark portrayal of a divided nation susceptible to manipulation.

Elevating the Apocalypse Narrative:

While the novel deliberately left room for imagination, the movie takes a different approach, immersing the audience in a whirlwind of events. Esmail’s storytelling is dynamic, though it occasionally veers into heavy-handedness. The incorporation of various societal flaws, such as racism and social disconnection, underscores the film’s underlying themes. However, the constant bombardment of these issues can dilute the tension and fail to deeply resonate.

Performances and Cinematography:

The talented cast delivers commendable performances, despite feeling somewhat misaligned with the movie’s overall tone. Roberts and Hawke bring depth and complexity to their roles, yet their presence sometimes seems out of place in a film that could have explored a more immersive and subdued approach. Additionally, visually stunning shots and celestial images contribute to the film’s atmosphere but do not always serve the narrative effectively.

A Clever Irony:

Ultimately, “Leave the World Behind” presents a thought-provoking irony. With physical media symbolizing resilience in the face of a crumbling world, the movie itself being a Netflix production adds a layer of self-awareness. As the internet-dependent society’s backbone collapses, the resilience of DVDs becomes an unexpected source of hope. The film provides an intriguing twist on the end-of-the-world narrative, leaving viewers contemplating the role of technology and media.


“Leave the World Behind” successfully translates Rumaan Alam’s compelling novel onto the screen, capturing its mesmerizing atmosphere and raising relevant social questions. Despite occasional heavy-handedness, the film offers an engaging storyline driven by phenomenal performances. The ironic portrayal of physical media’s survival adds depth to the narrative, leaving audiences with a theme to ponder—a theme that cleverly echoes the course of an unforgettable journey through the apocalypse.

Watch on Netflix.


Leave the World Behind, Netflix

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