Leave the World Behind with Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke does not contain any shock moments, but it does get under your skin. What would you do in a world without the internet and smartphones?
It’s a bit strange that Leave the World Behind, based on the bestseller by Rumaan Alam, was produced by none other than Barack and Michelle Obama. After all, this psychological thriller seems to suggest that the Western world is very vulnerable and may be facing an inevitable catastrophe. The film starts very simply with a classic American family (father Ethan Hawke, mother Julia Roberts and their two children) renting a villa in the woods of Long Island. However, the musical score immediately makes it clear that something uncanny awaits the family. A day at the beach ends very bizarrely and a little later an African-American (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter come knocking. The man claims he owns the house. But that cannot be checked, because the internet and telephones no longer work.
(Continue reading below the trailer)
Not many spectacular things happen in Leave the World Behind, but it is a film that takes you step by step, second by second. The feeling of an apocalyptic threat is becoming increasingly intense. And yet, although there are similarities with films such as On the Beach, The Birds and The Happening, the film still differs from the classic doomsday movie. That’s because author-screenwriter Alam is not really interested in genre conventions, but rather in the psychological consequences of incidents. Ultimately, Leave the World Behind is mainly about failed communication, what that does to us and the essential need for friends, even if they are the fictional ones from Friends.