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Leave the World Behind

It’s the one time of the year where there are big, expensive films for grown-ups—yay!

I was excited to see Leave the World Behind because Sam Esmail is such a good filmmaker. I watched all of Mr. Robot—which got a little convoluted, but was beautifully made—and loved the first season of Homecoming.

Leave the World Behind is about two upper-class families who have to coexist in an expensive vacation home while the world falls apart all around them. It’s based on a fairly recent book, stars Julia Roberts, and two of the executive producers are the Obamas. So let’s just say this is high-class.

I could tell immediately, it’s the kind of movie that is the least enjoyable to watch the first time. (I say this after the first watch.) The Shining comes to mind.

It’s about fear and uncertainty, and it frustrates the audience because there are no answers. (There’s sort of an answer at the end, but it’s like a guess.) The movie is about the frustration itself.

Not only are there no real answers, but the characters don’t get close to the answer...and they don’t even get a chance to try.

Mysteries are fun to watch when the characters are trying to solve the same mystery that intrigues the audience. That’s why Rosemary’s Baby, besides being a masterpiece, takes off in the second act—Rosemary is hell-bent (pardon the expression) on figuring out the mystery to save her unborn child.

As we all know, real life is often boring and lacking in answers. So it’s truthful to express that in a movie. But it’s also kind of dull.

I remember seeing the Andy Kaufman movie starring Jim Carrey where there’s an almost throwaway line where Andy’s girlfriend says something to the effect of, if only they knew the real you. And Andy says, “There is no real me.”

Well, that might have actually been true. But that’s a short film, not a two-hour-plus movie.

So a little like The Killer—also, coincidentally, for Netflix—this was kind of an “anti-movie” for me. But the quality and style are so elevated, I enjoyed them.

I’m pretty sure Sam Esmail loves the same 1970s movies that I do because Mac Quayle’s score here pretty much channels vintage Michael Small. A nice treat, albeit a little abrasive.

I wish the Obamas would produce my movies!

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Robert Knaus
Robert Knaus
12. Dez. 2023

One of the best movies of the year (and, for this physical media diehard, the darkly funny coda made me smirk with delight, even if it's kind of Netflix taking a backhanded swipe at itself). Elegantly directed, beautifully scored, well-acted, and truly tense and absorbing.

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