Title: Leave the World Behind
MPA Rating: R
Director: Sam Esmail
Starring: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke
Runtime: 2 hrs 18 mins
What It Is: In a rare surge of spontaneity from his wife Amanda (Roberts) it appears Clay (Hawke) and his family will be spending the weekend in a beautiful home with their children. But when something goes haywire and the host of the home (and it’s owner) G.H. (Ali) comes back because of said event. With him is his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) and the return of the host to this home confuses Amanda. That won’t be the last time this group is confused.
What We Think: Sam Esmail is the kinda guy who has great idea but not the ability to pull it off. Let’s start with the positives. Esmail has a clear knack for making his projects really good looking and this one is no different. The cinematography here is, at many points, absolutely beautiful. But that’s where the brilliance ends. It’s a flat script with flat performances and even the normally excellent Ethan Hawke can’t save this sinking ship. Esmail, for his part as a writer typically works with more…rigidity in his previous works, Here has doesn’t have the crutch of this and it there fore comes across as to unmalleable for what the story beats are.
Our Grade: C-, This is the perfect film to explain when something is too smart for its own good and too dumb to function. A film that doesn’t really understand what it is and therefore doesn’t understand what it’s doing. Of course, being a Netflix release in the horror/thriller genre it found an audience upon release. Sadly I know that audience much like me was truly disappointed by the absolute lackluster storytelling. Perhaps Sam Esmail should stop making films to be talked about and maybe make films who’s coherence is sensible and easy to follow. Sometimes a step back can really help. It might be time for exactly that from Esmail.