Movie Review: Leave the World Behind (2023)

Synopsis: In a spontaneous moment, Amanda Sanford decides to rent a luxurious home near the ocean beach outside of New York City and have an impromptu weekend getaway with her husband, Clay and her two kids, Rose and Archie. Shortly after arriving, a series of strange occurrences begin to happen, ranging from an oil tanker grounding itself on the beach to their cell service no longer working. When the home's owner, G. H. shows up in the middle of the night with his daughter, Ruth, talking about a major power outage in the city, it's clear something massive is happening, though they have no way of learning exactly what that is or even if they can trust each other.

Who's in it? The movie stars Julia Roberts, Ethan HawkeMahershala AliMyha'la and Kevin Bacon.

Review: The first time I heard about this movie was last night, when I came across it on Netflix. To be honest, the description and the limited information from the Netflix trailers left a lot to be desired. However, since it had at least three actors I recognized, I decided to give it a chance. As it turns out, it was pretty good.

There were a couple things I really enjoyed about this movie. One of the main ones was the mystery surrounding the series of events they were witnessing. Since all forms of communication were cut off and they weren't even able to return to the city because of a massive highway pile up caused by self-driving cars, the characters (and the audience) were left in the dark for almost the entirety of the movie and what first seemed like a simple cyber-attack was clearly a whole lot more, especially with the weird way animals were behaving as well.

I also found I liked the constant tension/distrust between Amanda (Roberts) and G. H. (Ali). Or, more accurate, Amanda and Ruth (Myha'la). As my wife agreed, Amanda seemed to be a character that was unlike any we've ever seen Roberts play before. If anything, I would probably consider her more of an antagonist than a protagonist because that woman seemed to just be angry at everyone. 

While I could probably understand having some distrust of the two strangers who arrived without any form of identification, it wasn't as though she was overly affectionate toward her husband and kids either. In any case, this dynamic did create a fairly large wildcard as far as the movie went because it was something that could implode at any moment. 

The big reveal at the end (or at least the theory that was presented) was also something that was surprisingly eye opening. While it was an extreme thing and the movie never reveals who was behind it, the way G. H. described it made a lot of sense and was believable enough to be downright scary. At the same time, the somewhat funny final scene did manage to at least end the movie on a little less dark of a note.

My only real problem with the movie is there were some things I felt weren't explained very well. For example, I didn't understand how the vacation home continued to have electricity when it was likely getting that electricity from the power plants that were supposedly shut down by the attack. I highly doubt that small community had its own power supply. Plus, the weird migration patterns of the deer and flamingos didn't quite fit in with G. H.'s theory.

I also kind of felt like Bacon didn't get enough of a role in the overall plot. His survivalist character, Danny, seemed intriguing but, other than a brief scene in the beginning, we don't even see him until near the end. The movie was good without him, but I feel like it could have been considerably better with him. 

Final Opinion: It was a surprising movie that kept me interested throughout and had an ending that made me think. I'd recommend giving it a chance.

My Grade: A


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