Leaving the White House, Barack Obama and his wife Michelle embarked on a life as producers. Their company Higher Ground has stood out for its podcasts, cartoons and engaging documentaries. With The World After Us, an adaptation for Netflix of Rumaan Alam's novel, the presidential couple makes a sensational entry into the world of blockbusters, helped by the Hitchcockian instinct of their director Sam Esmail and his favorite collaborator Julia Roberts.
New York bobos, Amanda (Julia Roberts) and Clay (Ethan Hawke) take their two teenagers for a getaway to the opulent Hampton countryside. The vacation takes a turn for the strange when an oil tanker runs aground on the beach.
Shortly after, the owners of the villa they rented, G.H. (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter, announce themselves. What if these African-American guests were intruders? Amanda is suspicious. The Internet goes down, followed by the telephone network. Attack, nuclear accident, piracy, invasion, rebellion of nature… How do you know? Isolated and without communication with the outside world, the two families must put aside their resentment to survive. Like M. Night Shyamalan, Sam Esmail, a pro at paranoid thrillers, author of the Mr. Robot and Homecoming series, constructs a climate where the danger is all the more serious because it is invisible. Even in the rustling of leaves and the appearances of wild animals. At Le Figaro, the actors confided that they were shaken by this exploration of our fears which reveals how dependent our daily lives are on technology.
“ Sam Esmail does not depict the effects of violence. It examines what, within our balance of power, allows its eruption. Much more interesting and terrifying,” points out Ethan Hawke. “In this type of disaster film, we expect gigantic explosions, a succession of calamities rather than remaining alongside six characters who experience this plunge into the unknown in real time. The closed session is suffocating. This contrasts all the more with the immense destruction taking place around them,” observes Mahershala Ali. Between two nods to Death on the Trail and Friends (yes, such an association is possible!), Sam Esmail, who received notes from Obama on the probable scenarios of the collapse of society, offers Julia Roberts a tasty counter-use. In the shoes of a misanthropic matriarch full of racist prejudices, America's ex-girlfriend becomes the mirror of a divided nation where civil war and anarchy wait in ambush.