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Leave the World Behind review – Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali excel in cracking apocalyptic thriller

It’s a telling little detail. Advertising executive Amanda (Julia Roberts) is rather more disconcerted by the fact that a Black father and daughter, GH (Mahershala Ali) and Ruth (Myha’la Herrold), knock at the door of her luxurious Long Island holiday rental at midnight than she is by the fact that a cargo ship crashed into the local beach, narrowly missing her family, earlier that day.

Adapted by writer-director Sam Esmail (Mr Robot) from the acclaimed novel by Rumaan Alam, this apocalyptic psychological thriller is sharp-witted, bracingly bleak and immensely enjoyable. It’s a disaster movie that builds in increments – first with an east coast power outage, then the failure of communications networks, planes plummeting from the sky, society crumbling and the local wildlife gathering on the lawn to gaze balefully through the bifold patio doors.

Exec produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, Leave the World Behind is a cracking film – a provocative, superbly acted action drama that combines big-hitting ambition and spectacle with just enough humour to temper the whole end-of-civilisation meltdown scenario.