Leave The World Behind (2023) – Movie Review/Summary

In this disaster movie, instead of action stars, we get leads known for their dramatic abilities who are tasked with surviving apocalyptic situations with none of them playing the role of the world’s savior.

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Myha'la as Ruth, Mahershala Ali as George, Ethan Hawke as Clay, and Julia Robertts as Amanda, Leave The World Behind, directed by Sam Esmail, 2023, (Netflix)

Film Summary

With Amanda frustrated by the City and people in general, she decides to plan a family vacation for the weekend. Her husband Clay is worried about budget cuts and could use a vacation, so before he can say no, she rents a Long Island mansion, packs their things, and prepares their daughter Rose and Archie. The place is huge, where everyone can have a room, there is a pool in the back, and it is the epitome of luxury, and things are fine at first.

However, between the internet going down and there being no cable, then the owner G.H. Scott, and his daughter, Ruth, coming home early? Red flags are raised. Amanda never met G.H., George, and he is Black so, him showing up in the middle of the night, when her kids, including barely 13-year-old Rose, are in the house, she doesn’t like that.

But, with Clay more amiable and open to the idea, plus George noting he can refund Amanda, he is at peace with the idea. Now, is Ruth fine with the idea of people, specifically Amanda, who she thinks is racist, being in the house? Never mind, she and her father are sleeping in the guest room, in the basement, while Amanda’s family is upstairs? No.

Yet, in this five-part movie, you learn why these two families have to look out for each other as it appears there isn’t a worldwide apocalypse, but America is definitely in trouble.


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Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)


Probably One Of The Best Disaster Movies I’ve Ever Seen

Myha'la as Ruth, Mahershala Ali as George, Ethan Hawke as Clay, and Julia Robertts as Amanda, Leave The World Behind, directed by Sam Esmail, 2023, (Netflix)
LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (2023) Myha’la as Ruth, Mahershala Ali as G.H., Ethan Hawke as Clay and Julia Roberts as Amanda. CR: JoJo Whilden/NETFLIX

What makes “Leave The World Behind” stand out as a disaster movie is that it isn’t an action movie, no character has the power to fix or change anything, so all they can do is wait out the events they see happening and hope for survival. But what also makes this movie notable are the performances.

There isn’t a bad performance in this entire film. Now, I will admit, Rose and Archie don’t really break away from being Amanda and Clay’s kids. However, they are still useful in giving Amanda a reason to have heightened emotions, to add onto the prickliness of Roberts’ performance, and give us a nice, rated R version of what can feel like a Disney Channel family – in terms of the friendly dad, stern mom, weird little sister and teen son.

But, what really makes the film for me is how, in each part, the mystery of what is going on, or could be going on, unravels. Because of his line of work, George is privy to certain things and potentially aware of what is happening. He doesn’t pretend he can confirm anything, since he only has an idea due to algorithms and patterns and the odd way one of his clients was acting.

Ali, as he slowly reveals more and sees and goes through horrific things, strangely becomes the heart of the film. For while Roberts and Hawke are parents to minors, there is something about Ali taking on the household’s paternal role in trying to protect, save, and shield everyone that works so wonderfully.

This is especially true when it comes to George’s relationship with Ruth. You can tell Ruth is a little prickly, similar to Amanda, and doesn’t like people. She is especially cautious about White people, partly due to how she was raised and maybe from experience. In Esmail writing her so, she feels very authentic, and while some may not like how she is looking for a reason to call Amanda racist, as a Black person, Ruth being written and performed as she was, it let me know this wasn’t a blind casting or “Anyone could play this role” situation, which is appreciated.

That aside, even though it is comical to watch Ruth pick with Amanda and basically create scenarios for Amanda to hate Ruth for anything but her race, then we’re reminded that while Ruth isn’t as young as Archie and Rose, she is a child. One who isn’t aimless but still finding herself, and because her dad is wealthy, she has more time to do so than the average person. Yet, at the same time, she doesn’t seem to come from a large family where there isn’t just her mom and dad but uncles, aunts, and cousins. So the fear Myha’la shows when she worries about her mom or fears her dad splitting up to play the role of a leader, it can get to you.

I’d even say, Ali and Myha’la are the film’s heart and soul, while those in Amanda’s family help bring a sense of how those without wealth and privilege could feel.

Also Worth Mentioning

  • I loved how the film broke down what is happening, as new information came in from the radio, television, or George started to reveal things to make it clear this isn’t an accident or something temporary.

Who Is This For?

Those who love disaster movies but don’t want the lead to be the only person who can save the world, or in this case, the United States, but more so want people without special expertise or knowledge to be subject to devastation and see how they, among others, react.


If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Knock At The Cabin: Another in the world disaster movie

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

General Information


Sam Esmail

Screenplay By

Sam Esmail

Based On Novel By

Rumaan Alam

Date Released

November 22, 2023

Released Via

In Theaters

Date Released

December 8, 2023

Released Via








Film Length

2 Hour 18 Minutes

Content Rating

Rated R

Noted Characters and Cast


Julia Roberts


Ethan Hawke


Farrah Mackenzie


Charlie Evans


Mahershala Ali


Myha’la Herrold

Content Rating Explanation

  • Dialog: Cursing Throughout
  • Violence: Threats of Gun Violence, Depiction of dead bodies with injuries
  • Sexual Content: Nothing notable
  • Miscellaneous: Drinking and smoking (Vaping)

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.


A marketing executive, Amanda has made a career out of lying to people to buy things she is told to market, and it’s a strange job that wears on her because of what people choose to believe and because she generally doesn’t like people.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Wonder.”


Clay is an English professor for a college in New York, the extrovert to Amanda’s aversion to people.


Charlie Evans as Archie and Farrah Mackenzie as Rose, Leave The World Behind, directed by Sam Esmail, 2023, (Netflix)
LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (2023) Charlie Evans as Archie and Farrah Mackenzie as Rose. CR: Courtesy NETFLIX

Rose is Amanda and Clay’s newly teenaged daughter who is currently obsessed with finishing the T.V. series “Friends.”


Archie is a teenage boy worried about some girl he likes, looking at Ruth and picking with his little sister.

G.H. (George)

George is someone who does well in finance, stocks, and the like, whose clients include people in the defense industry, which is why he is a bit more weary, aware, and a tad paranoid about what could be going on, especially as his paranoia becomes intuition.


The lovable and sarcastic Ruth has a chip on her shoulder and isn’t subtle, but when things get tough, she is quick to remind George, while an adult, she is still his child, he is her only family, and we see her get emotional over that fact.

Discussion Items

Let us know your thoughts in the comments:

  1. Are you the type to read the source material before a movie comes out?
  2. Does anyone else find it strange when actors, like Kevin Bacon for this movie, are advertised as being part of a film in a notable way, but they are barely in it?

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Leave The World Behind (2023) – Movie Review


With a strong cast, how the story unravels, and the characters, “Leave The World Behind” is a notable entry into the disaster movie drama and creates a slight reason to be scared and mindful considering where the world is going.

  • Probably One Of The Best Disaster Movies I’ve Ever Seen - 84%
  • How The Film Broke Down What Is Happening - 83%


  • How The Film Broke Down What Is Happening
  • Probably One Of The Best Disaster Movies I’ve Ever Seen


  • N/A

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