Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie: Thought-Provoking Tale

Leave The World Behind movie is a thought-provoking tale about doomsday. This Hollywood movie explores the scenarios when the USA faces a day of reckoning.

It is based on the book of the same name ‘Leave the World Behind‘ by Rumaan Alam. Although there are a few changes in the movie, specifically the ending of the movie.

Synopsis [official] of the Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

A family’s getaway to a luxurious rental home takes an ominous turn when a cyberattack knocks out their devices — and two strangers appear at their door.

Then an idyllic getaway suddenly erupts into chaos, trust unravels fast.

Rating of Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
FM Rating3.50/5
FM Short CommentsThis apocalyptic tale paints a rather bleak picture of the world, specifically that of the USA. With an amazing star cast backed by a wonderful director, our expectations from this film were sky-high. But, sadly it fell way short and did not give us the ending that we expected. Still, it does manage to evoke quite a few important questions, as to what the future holds for us.
FM Rating – Leave The World Behind (2023) film

Spoiler Free Review of Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

The official storyline of the film – as per its makers

Amanda Stanford’s (Julia Roberts) and Clay Stanford’s (Ethan Hawk) aspirational vacation with their teenage children {Rose ((Farrah Mackenzie) and Archie (Charlie Evans)} is interrupted by the arrival of a middle-aged man G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) who own the holiday home and who have fled an unprecedented blackout in the city.

When the internet, television and radio stop working, as does the landline, they have no way of finding out what is happening. As strange sonic booms shatter the peace of the countryside, and animals start to migrate in strange ways, the physical and mental health of the families begins to disintegrate.

Whatever is happening in the world is terrifying and unexplained

The renters are upscale and White; the owners are upscale and Black. The issues of race clash and become distractions to the more alarming things that are happening all around them. We liked this kind of subtle commentary on the issue of race and racism. So, these two families (people from Black and White races) are then forced to exist — and survive — under the same roof as increasingly strange and apocalyptic events occur, including plane crashes, herds of deer filing into the backyard and Archie’s teeth mysteriously falling out.

In this film, there is no official explanation offered about the mysterious chaos. Whatever we learn about the impending doomsday, comes from the mouth of G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali). You can read about his “3 steps theory” in the spoilers shared below. But that is just his theory. Neither the film nor the original book, give a definitive answer about the anarchy. We also meet the conspiracy theorist Danny (Kevin Bacon) in a brief and tense encounter. He seemed afraid and overly suspicious, but even he did not have any answers.

Boasts of good writing, directing, musical and acting talents

The source material of its tale is provided by Rumaan Alam’s novel. However, writer and director Sam Esmail has turned this film into a thriller movie with a few tweaks, here and there. The ensemble cast has performed convincingly in this ominous and almost prophetic film (we liked that scene about the car(s) crash – check the spoilers below). The music by Mac Quayle is eerie. It accentuates the tension-filled settings of the film.

In addition, its writers and directors have inserted quite a few intelligent historical references in the film. Again, you can the spoilers below. Given solid material, the actors led by Julia Roberts (Amanda Sandford), Mahershala Ali (G. H. Scott), Ethan Hawke (Clay Sandford), Myha’la (Ruth Scott), Farrah Mackenzie (Rose Sandford), etc. have done well.

The conclusion

We were a bit surprised by the sudden ending of the film. But then, we expected it from Sam Esmail. To repeat, check the spoilers for our explanation of the film’s end scene. It is a film, that forces you to think, about where our world is heading towards. More so, we are witnessing a bunch of wars going on with the tragic apocalyptic scenes. Watch this thought-provoking film and draw your conclusion. Enjoy!

Spoilers Alerts – a bunch of fine points about the key scenes from the film

Oil Tanker / Ship in the film and its significance

White Lion

The name of the oil tanker is “White Lion”, which hits the beach of an American shoreline in this film. It is worth noting that “White Lion” was the first ship ever to bring African slaves to the English colonies in America.

Furthermore, the radio frequency in Clay’s (Ethan Hawk) car is 1619, Most likely, it is another reference to the White Lion ship of the oil tanker.

Noise in the film and its significance

The ear-piercing noise

While we hear the ear-piercing noise, quite a few times in the film. What could be the reason behind such a disturbing noise?

The cause of the piercing noise heard during the movie and the source of Archie Stanford’s (Charlie Evan) illness is a mystery.

Havana Syndrome

However, one of the characters mentions a microwave weapon, stating that one was used in Havana, Cuba. Most likely, it is a reference to the so-called “Havana Syndrome” that we have heard in the past. The “Havana syndrome” is a condition some (US) government officials and their family members at US embassies in different countries have reported experiencing since 2016.

Symptoms have included headaches, sleeplessness, other signs similar to those of neurological conditions and ringing in the ears to cognitive dysfunction. Some of these people reported having heard a piercing sound that preceded and seemed to precipitate the symptoms.

Cause of the Havana Syndrome?

But investigations by seven different U.S. intelligence agencies reported in 2022 and 2023 that there is no credible evidence that a foreign adversary like Cuba, Russia, or China was responsible or even possesses such a weapon and that out of over a thousand purported cases, the causes of only about two dozen cases were still unknown. Press outlets seized on the idea that a foreign enemy of the U.S. might have used some sort of a sonic or microwave weapon and reported that speculation so widely that many in the general public still believe it and present it as fact.

Info. Source: IMDb.

Car scene in the film and its significance


In one of the dramatic sequences in the film, the Sandford family are stymied in their attempt to leave Long Island by a line of stalled cars. But they soon realize that what seems like a traffic jam is more complicated: it is hundreds of Teslas that have been sequentially hacked, auto-driven, and crashed into each other in a remote ploy to make the roads unusable–a clear cautionary message about the auto-drive function, a technology that has been controversial in real life. 

Real life

And then in real life, on December 12, 2023 (very soon after the release of this movie), the Tesla automotive company, under strong pressure from U.S. regulators, recalled more than two million cars across nearly all manufacturing models because of widespread reports of flaws and dangers posed by their autopilot systems.

Info. Source: IMDb

Bunker in the film and its significance


In this film, the bunker is manufactured by a company called ‘Commodus Survival Shelters’. Again, it is worth noting that the “Commodus” (161 CE- 190 CE) was a Roman emperor whose reign generally marked the end of the golden age of peace in the Roman Empire. His brutal misrule precipitated civil strife, ending 84 years of stability and prosperity within the Roman empire.

3 steps theory of the war strategy

The 3 step theory of war strategy explained by G.H. Scott at the end of the movie, on how to destabilize a country and its infrastructure, is the same theory used in The Twilight Zone S1 Ep 22 (1960) “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street”. With step 3 being identical.

3 stages explained by the film’s dialogues

G.H. Scott: A simple three stage maneuver that could topple a country's government from within. 

The first stage is ISOLATION. Disable their communication and trasnportation. Make the target as deaf, dumb, and paralyzed as possible. 

Setting them up for the second stage - SYNCHRONIZED CHAOS. Terrorize them with covert attacks and misinformation, overwhelming their defense capabilities leaving their weapon systems vulnerable to extremists and their own military. Withourt a clear enemy or motive, people will start turning on each other. 

If done sucessfully, the third stage would happen on its own. 

Clay Sandford: What's the third stage?

G.H. Scott: (the third stage is) Coup d'etat. Civil War. Collapse. This program was considered the most cost-effective way to destablize a country. Because if the target nation was dysfunctional enough, it would, in essence, do a work for you. Whoever started this wants us to finish it...

{coup d'état/French for 'stroke of state' or simply a coup}.
The Last one – the complicated ending of the film explained

The Last One

Rose/Rosie (Farrah Mackenzie), the teenage daughter has been trying to watch the last episode of the Friends series, entitled “The Last One” but she was unable to do it. So, she wishes to see the finale of the Friends season titled “The Last One” desperately. It is worth noting that Part IV of this movie is called “The Last One” too.

Finally, as this film proceeds towards the end, we witness Rose watching the Friends series alone in the basement bunker of one of their Long Island neighbour Thornes’ homes. The film’s ending is a departure from Alam’s novel, which finishes with Rose gathering supplies from the house before presumably returning to her family.

What does the author say about the film’s ending?

It’s not that kind of story. I have no problem with like a big disaster movie that saves the six or eight principals and reunites them in the aftermath of a disaster and allows you to be like, “Well, everything’s gonna be okay.” I just don’t think this is that kind of film.

Author Rumaan Alam | Variety

Let us discuss the ending in detail

This apocalyptic movie ends with Rose finding the neighbour’s bunker and a DVD containing the final season of the “Friends” series. As she puts on the series finale, the Rembrandts’ theme song, “I’ll Be There For You,” plays over the movie’s end credits, and the lyrics of the same go like this:

So no one told you 
Life was gonna be this way 

You Job's a joke
You're broke
Your love life's DOA

It's like you're always 
Stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day
Your week, your month
Or even your year

But I'll be there for you
When the rain starts to pour
I'll be there for you
Like I've been there before
I'll be there for you
'Cause you're there for me too...

In a way, this series and the song provide some solace to Rose, the youngest of the survivors. This show is like comfort food for her and maybe it is about the ‘nostalgia for a time that never existed’ for her, her family and her acquaintances. The sudden ending of the movie is open for interpretation by its viewers. One can draw their conclusion on its surprising end. So, go ahead, and draw your views.

Poster of Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

Poster of Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie
Poster of Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

Key details about the Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

GenreDrama, Mystery, Thriller
Original language English (USA)
Released22 November, 2023 (USA)
Age-restrictionsR – A (18+)
Duration2 hours 18 minutes
DirectorSam Esmail
WritersRumaan Alam & Sam Esmail
CastJulia Roberts (Amanda Sandford), Mahershala Ali (G. H. Scott), Ethan Hawke (Clay Sandford), Myha’la (Ruth Scott), Farrah Mackenzie (Rose Sandford), Charlie Evans (Archie Sandford), Kevin Bacon (Danny), etc.
TaglinesThere’s No Going Back to Normal
About – Leave The World Behind (2023) Film

Trailer of the Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie

Official trailer – Leave The World Behind (2023) Film – Netflix | YouTube.

Featured Image and Poster of the Leave The World Behind (2023) Film | Pics. Credit: Netflix

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