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Consider yourself warned. The film Leave the World Behind will disturb you.

“Think you that you are to go on/Forever pampered and untried?”

This question in the 1916 poem “Cassandra,” meant to needle Americans, has haunted me since the day Mrs. Quinn taught it in English class. And now the Netflix film Leave the World Behind, which asks a similar question, haunts me too.

This new Julia Roberts film sends the intensity needle into red. In fact, hubby Dave paused our viewing periodically so we could breathe. After all, the plot asks a question we might like to ignore: What would happen to us if our modern conveniences failed?

This is what befalls our characters. What should have been a lovely getaway to a Long Island VRBO-ish rental turns dark for protagonist Amanda Sandford (Roberts) and her family. Like us, her husband and children expect only fun and rest.

The cell phones fail, then the cable. Well, that’s not the end of the world.

Or is it? A stranger at the door. A ship that’s lost its way. A plane that might crash into you.

What can our friends do in this new day they find themselves in? The story offers one answer that underscores “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Fine acting carries the extreme situations well. Besides Roberts, the line-up offers Kevin Bacon, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali. Director Sam Esmail is known for “Homecoming” and “Comet.”

The production isn’t flawless. Some CGI moments might make you wince. OK, so be it. I still had to see the movie to its end.

Especially disturbing to me was the fact that former President Barack Obama produced the movie.

“Why does that bug you?” my husband asked.

“Because presidents know things. Right?”


Our scriptures hold disturbing apocryphal images and words. Think Revelation—or the Old Testament prophets. Might our worldview predict such a day? If so, what could it look like?

Leave the World Behind offers one answer that might haunt you as it did me.

Rated “R” for language. The story is based on Rumaan Alam’s novel by the same name. (Netflix)

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