Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali – The Hollywood Reporter

Anyone who still needs to be convinced that we live in a fragmented world may be frightened by the futuristic nightmare drama Leave the world behind, which had its world premiere at AFI Fest. Others may find the portrait of racial suspicion and environmental catastrophe a bit dated. Good performances help buttress a problematic film written and directed by Sam Esmail and based on Rumaan Alam’s bestselling novel. The film will air on Netflix in December, the streamer’s second release this year (after Rustin), whose executive producers include Barack and Michelle Obama.

The story begins with a New York family (Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and, as their teenage children, Farrah Mackenzie and Charlie Evans) leaving the city to vacation in a rental house on Long Island marked “Leave them World behind you” advertises. ” The house and grounds are indeed enticing and the nearby beach seems to be just the tonic the stressed-out family needs. But things quickly become threatening when the little daughter (Mackenzie), who seems to be the sharpest of the four, notices a huge oil tanker that seems to be getting a little too close to the swimmers and sunbathers.

Leave the world behind

The conclusion

High-quality horror offers a few jokes, but little new insight.

Venues: AFI Fest
Pour: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la, Farrah Mackenzie, Charlie Evans, Kevin Bacon
Director-screenwriter: Sam email; Based on the book by Rumaan Alam

Rated R, 2 hours 18 minutes

Esmail, probably best known as the writer and director of the TV series Mr. Robotand who worked with Roberts at Amazon Homecoming, has studied a number of previous films. The scene on the beach serves as a change Jaw, with the tanker replacing the shark. The image also resonates Exit, with its nightmarish vision of conflict between races. In the evening, the family is surprised by a knock on the door. When Roberts’ Amanda sees a black man and his adult daughter (Mahershala Ali and Myha’la) outside, she barely tries to hide her suspicions. The intruders tell the white couple that they own the vacation home and that they have fled their New York apartment because of a power outage in the city. Electricity is still operational in the country, but television and cell phone service is disrupted. Gradually, more nightmarish events occur.

Hawkes Clay initially appears to be more open-minded than his wife, but he reveals his prejudices when, on a drive into the city, he is approached by a frightened Latina who asks him for help, and he responds by locking the doors of his car and races away.

Towards the end of the film, Kevin Bacon appears as a sort of survivalist with a huge American flag outside his house and guns at the ready. He blames the “Koreans or Chinese” for threats to the American way of life. These political themes are presented with a heavy hand by the filmmakers and hardly contain any surprises.

As a nightmarish suspense drama about the disintegration of everyday life, Esmail’s film is sometimes effective, even if it is reminiscent of earlier films such as. B. remembers The street and David Koepp’s underrated 1996 thriller, The trigger effect. Esmail cleverly uses invading animals – a scary herd of deer, a flock of flamingos. What stands out is a scene with a crashing phalanx of empty Teslas, and there is a creepy scene in which the teenage son Archie (Evans) loses his teeth.

The performances are strong. Roberts has occasionally played unlikable characters, although this was rare throughout her long career. Here she essentially plays a Karen, a privileged white woman who barely tries to hide her distrust and contempt for people who seem to be intruders into her privileged world. She gradually begins to see Ali’s homeowner as a three-dimensional character, and his portrayal is consistently captivating. Myha’la has a cheeky, no-nonsense presence that also enriches the film.

Technically, the feature is extremely well made, with impressive widescreen cinematography by Tod Campbell and expert production design – a mix of elegance and decay – by Anastasia White. However, the stunning score is by Mac Quayle, who is perhaps best known for his work on American horror story, all too often destroys any subtlety that might have been present in the script. They’re depressed but not entirely convinced by this film’s dire warnings about the disintegration of a divided America.

Full credits

Venue: AFI Fest
Distributor: Netflix
Cast: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la, Farrah Mackenzie, Charlie Evans, Kevin Bacon
Director and screenwriter: Sam Esmail
Based on the book by Rumaan Alam
Producers: Sam Esmail, Chad Hamilton, Julia Roberts, Marisa Yeres Gill, Lisa Gillan
Executive Producers: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Tonia Davis, Daniel M. Stillman, Nick Krishnamurthy, Rumaan Alam
Cameraman: Tod Campbell
Production Designer: Anastasia White
Costume designer: Catherine Marie Thomas
Editor: Lisa Lassek
Music: Mac Quayle

Rated R, 2 hours 18 minutes

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