Netflix’s new apocalyptic thriller is based on a novel by Rumaan Alam and is written and directed by Sam Esmail. Viewers familiar with Esmail’s work in Mr. Robot and his 2014 film Comet will find similar themes of nihilism, existentialism, and the end of the world approaching due to our well-known mistakes. ‘Leave The World Behind (2023),’ which had its world premiere at the AFI Fest and is now streaming on Netflix, is about a family forced to protect themselves and understand the strange happenings around them.

In the following article, we will take a detailed look at ‘Leave the World Behind,’ particularly its strange, funny, and bewildering ending that might leave you with a lot of unexplained questions. Please note that the article will be full of spoilers, so read at your own discretion.

Leave the World Behind (2023) Plot Summary & Movie Synopsis:

What is Netflix’s Leave The World Behind (2023) about?

The film follows Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay Sanford (Ethan Hawke), who go on a beach getaway with their children – Rose (Farrah Mackenzie) and Archie (Charlie Evans). They stay at an Airbnb whose owner – G.H. Scott (Mahershala Ali), and his daughter, Ruth (Myha’la), unexpectedly arrive at their home due to some mysterious chaos happening in the city. Both families are forced to survive under the same roof as strange happenings start occurring around them.

A Misanthropic Escape: The Sanford Family’s Holiday Plans

The film begins in the lavish apartment of the Sanford family. Amanda is in advertising, while Clay, her husband, is a professor of Media Studies. We get to know them when Amanda, who is a misanthrope, drops the idea that the family will be leaving the city for a holiday because they deserve it, and Amanda, who “hates” people, needs a time-out. She has rented a vacation house on Long Island, and the family takes a drive along with the kids who seem to be less interested in family time and more in their gadgets. Archie, the elder son, is busy with his video games, while Rose is into “Friends,” which has become her favorite sitcom. They reach the house and are excited for their lavish stay. However, Amanda spots a man (whom we later get to know is Danny, played by Kevin Bacon) who seems to be preparing for doomsday, stocking up on essentials that people usually don’t hoard.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

The first strange happening takes place when a massive oil tanker crashes into the sand near them while they are trying to have a nice time at the beach. No one is able to pinpoint what really led to the mishap, but unconfirmed reports that the accident took place due to the ship’s navigation system failing are heard. The family realizes that the internet and cellular connections have also been lost and try to reason what could be wrong. They return home for the evening when two strangers arrive on their doorstep. G. H. Scott (a.k.a George) and his daughter Ruth tell the Sanfords that they are the real owners of the house and would like to spend the night there because they had to leave the city urgently.

Amanda, who isn’t interested in accommodating anyone during her peaceful stay, grows suspicious when George agrees to refunding half of their booking amount. We can sense racial tension growing since Amanda assumes that The Scotts can’t be owners of this lavish property because they belong to the black community. In order to prove them wrong, George opens up the locked wine cabinet we saw earlier and offers them money and drinks. As viewers, we also assume the strangers can be intruders, but with time, it is established that they are actually the owners.

Leave the World Behind (2023) Ending Explained
LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (2023) Julia Roberts as Amanda, Ethan Hawke as Clay, Myha’la as Ruth and Mahershala Ali as G.H. CR: Courtesy NETFLIX

Exploring America’s Complexities: Superiority, Stereotypes, and Bonding over Weed

We get to know that George is an investment banker who deals with the stock market. He claims that some of his clients are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in the country, and from them, he had gotten hints that something terrible is going to happen soon. We also get to know that Danny is George’s contractor, and his other clients may have hinted at some kind of apocalyptic event on the uprise. Danny, who is some sort of doomsday theorist, has always been prepared for such events. George also tells them the reason to leave the city and the crowd was because of this threat that they have been sensing. We also get to know that George’s wife, who would have been with them if it wasn’t for her work which needed her to be in Morocco and would only return the next morning.

The next strange happening, however, puts doubt in George’s head about meeting his wife. When he goes to his neighbors to use their satellite phones, he witnesses airplanes falling out of the sky. While he hides this fact from Ruth, the grief of having lost his wife draws him closer to Amanda, who had initially disliked him. Much of ‘Leave The World Behind’ is about the doubts we form against people we don’t know, especially the ones who come from a different community altogether. Sam Esmail is more eager to look into America’s superiority complex and how this complex has layers of differentiation within the county itself. For instance, when Ruth and Clay bond over weed, we can later hear Ruth assuming that Clay is someone who has sex with his students and is eager to sleep with her too.

The differences that we see in the families eventually dissipate after the whole Tesla mishap that happens right in the middle of the film. Amanda becomes like a mother of sorts to Ruth despite not liking her initially. She even helps her from a herd of deer when they go out to the abandoned shed in search of Rose. Consequently, George tries his best to help Clay when Archie’s teeth start falling out after being stung by a bug.

Leave the World Behind (2023) Movie Ending Explained:

What does George realize after they meet Danny?

In order to help Archie, George and Clay drive to Danny’s place, expecting him to help them out with some antibiotics since he is a hoarder. Danny is reluctant and adamant to help them out because he is pretty sure that he will need all the supplies for the survival of his own family. However, when George pulls out his gun and a tense standoff between the three men takes place, he helps them out in exchange for cash.

This standoff makes George realize that everything that has been happening around them may be because of a military campaign that is usually used to destabilize a nation. On retracing the acts of hacking the network and the eventual collapse of technology and everything important that holds a country’s security system intact, he realizes that the campaign may be the reason for their misery. According to him, the first step of the campaign includes cutting people off from essentials, isolating them, and narrowing their resources to such an extent that they start turning against each other. Since the standoff also made George realize that there is a bunker that Danny had heard of in his neighbor’s place, George decides that camping out in the bunker in his neighbor’s house would be his best bet.

While we never get to see if this decision pans out, since the movie decides to leave us with a sense of uncertainty and a haunting realization of what obliviousness can lead us to, we can guess that they would lead to the bunker where the climax of the film takes place. However, since we don’t see the narrative panning out, the dawning of this realization on the boys should be taken as a final acceptance of doomsday leading their way.

Is Rose able to complete the final episode of the “Friends”?

The ending of ‘Leave the World Behind’ has to do mostly with Rose’s disappearance since that morning. The previous night and throughout the film, we saw Rose being extremely distant and unhappy because she was not able to see the finale of her favorite show. She even says that she is tired of waiting. While Ruth and Amanda are out searching for her, they see a civil war-like destruction happening in the city. We don’t see if they are able to find Rose, but since they have each other now, there is a sort of hopefulness that we see in their narrative despite Amanda and Ruth’s nature.

The final moments of the film see Rose finding the bunker in the neighbor’s house with all the amenities a person would need to survive. A satellite transmission that she doesn’t see tells us that a rough military group has taken over everything, leading to the disconnect and destruction that we see throughout the film. Along with all the amenities, there is a huge selection of DVDs that Rose finds out, and her first instinct, which is also her source of happiness in this unhappy world, is to pop in the final season of ‘Friends’ and watch the finale. ‘Leave the World Behind’ ends with a headshot of Rose gleefully staring at the television screen, putting on the series finale as the Rembrandts’ song “I’ll Be There For You” plays over the movie’s end credits.

Coming to the significance of the ending, the most obvious and funniest way to understand it would be the power of images as our only source of joy in this deranged world. There is a satirical way in which Esmail ends his films because, at the end of the day, it’s a Netflix product that is telling us the importance of physical media. Since it also ends with the uncertainty of whether George will find the bunker or Amanda will find her daughter, we can only assume that Rose will be watching and rewatching her favorite sitcom forever.

Read More: 8 Movies to Watch If You Like “Leave the World Behind”

Watch the trailer Leave the World Behind

Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie Cast: Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la, Kevin Bacon
Leave The World Behind (2023) Movie Genre: Mystery & thriller/Drama, Runtime: 2h 20m
Where to watch Leave the World Behind

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Similar Posts