“Leave the World Behind”


Rotten Tomatoes (3.5/5), Metacritic (7/10), Letterboxd (3.5/5), Imdb.com (7/10), TMDB.com (3.5/5)

What would you do if you suddenly began experiencing a series of anomalous, apocalyptic-style events? With communications crippled and transportation severely hampered, it’s impossible to figure out what’s happening or how to formulate a feasible exit strategy. Yet, as all this is unfolding, the troubling and unexplained events continue unabated. Now what? Such is the chilling experience of an upscale New York City couple and their two children who unwittingly wind up sharing a luxurious Long Island vacation home with the wealthy property owner and his adult daughter in the midst of all this chaos. As they struggle to determine what’s transpiring, they come upon revelations about themselves, one another and the world at large, which clearly is not everything it appears or has been made out to be. The result is a creepy but astute cautionary tale, one we’d be wise to heed given current sociopolitical trends and prevailing conditions. While director Sam Esmail’s second feature outing generally manages to maintain a certain edge-of-the-seat quality, it could nevertheless stand to use some trimming to pick up the pace in spots, especially in several instances where the dialogue becomes strained and in others where the narrative veers into needlessly and cryptically stringing viewers along from one enigmatic event to another. In addition, while I am certainly no prude when it comes to off-color language, the screenplay contains a surprisingly inordinate number of f-bombs, a script device that seems decidedly inappropriate, often out of place and vastly overused. The picture makes up for this with a fine ensemble cast, particularly in the performances of Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke and Kevin Bacon, as well as some intriguing cinematography, though the film’s inconsistent soundtrack/score doesn’t always work as well as it could have. “Leave the World Behind” truly comes across as a sincere effort at telling a compelling, suspenseful and enlightening tale, but it doesn’t always get all of the components right. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching, but the term “cautionary tale” is certainly apropos in describing more than just its insightful content.