ARTS + ENTERTAINMENT

KSL Movie Show review: ‘Leave the World Behind’ is a fun ride but falls short

Dec 9, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: Dec 22, 2023, 11:32 am

steve salles next to poster for leave the world behind, which is his newest review...

Steve Salles, co-host of the KSL Movie Show, says all the actors in "Leave the World Behind" perform wonderfully, including the kids.

SALT LAKE CITY — I like a movie that is not only full of mystery but forces one to peel back the onion of a plot at the same pace as the story’s characters – making it, hopefully, an intense shared experience.

That works most of the time in “Leave the World Behind.” Minus a few glaring missteps.

Amanda Sandford (Julia Roberts) wakes her husband Clay (Ethan Hawke) as she’s vigorously packing a suitcase. My first thought is “Uh oh, trouble in paradise?”

But much to my surprise and from the look on Clay’s face as well, we are both taken aback when she suggests they take a well-deserved break and get out of the city — as in New York — for the weekend. She’s found a lovely wooded area with a great house to rent.

And just like that off they go with their teenage son Archie (Charlie Evans) and younger daughter Rose (Farrah Mackenzie).

And wow, what a spectacular place with lots of space, privacy and a pool. All is well with the Sandfords – as they settle in for the night. 

However, a knock at the door awakens Clay and Amanda in the late hours.

It’s G. H. Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) claiming to be the owners of the house dealing with an unexpected blackout in the city. They hate to impose but are hoping to stay the night in an out-of-the-way downstairs room and are willing to refund half of the Sandford’s rental fee.

Easy-going Clay says sure, why not. Distrusting Amanda doesn’t buy their story, but after some coaxing and the opening of the locked liquor cabinet, everybody’s laughing and relaxed, despite Amanda’s continuing concerns.

Mysteries abound

That’s about as far as I’m willing to go as events begin to unfold that don’t make much sense, including widespread outages of power, internet and phone services. Even the TV has gone from an undetermined emergency broadcast message to finally just off-air snowy static.

A lot of strange things are happening – some of them tied to a possible explanation, while others in retrospect have nothing to do with what we eventually see and learn.

The actors are certainly in it to win it, as all of their efforts, even the kids, perform wonderfully.

It’s just that third act, where everything is supposed to come together and provide some answers, where I believe the film falls short.

“Leave the World Behind” is still a fun ride, but I was hoping for something a little more concrete and a lot less up in the air.

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND (B-) Rated R for language, some sexual content, drug use and brief bloody images. Starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, Ethan Hawke, Myha’la and Kevin Bacon. Co-written and directed by Sam Ismail (“Homecoming” “Mr. Robot” both TV series) -filmed in Long Island, New York. Showing on Netflix only. 138 minutes.

Steve Salles is the co-host of the KSL Movie Show. Follow the show on Facebook. Join the KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500. 

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘Leave the World Behind’ is a fun ride but falls short