The Discovery

How would your life change if tomorrow you read in the newspaper that science had confirmed the existence of an afterlife?

A scientist does just that in Netflix’s The Discovery, and his announcement shakes the world. Suicides skyrocket immediately. Is he responsible?

Robert Redford plays Thomas, the scientist in question. A year after the big announcement, he’s basically a recluse, still working on his theories in secret with his son Toby (Jesse Plemmons) and a cult’s worth of helpful believers. He’s pushing the envelope, wanting and needing more and more confirmation – if not for the world at large, at least for himself. It’s personal.

1393540Another son, Will (Jason Segel), estranged from his father since the discovery, returns home. On the return journey he meets a woman named Isla (Rooney Mara) who has her own reasons for questioning the afterlife.

This film provokes a lot of existential questions that not everyone will be comfortable with. But there’s a beauty in finding meaning in life. Believer or not, it draws you in to its essential mystery. Unfortunately, the seed is strongly than the story. It’s a great what-if idea but lacks the terrific follow-through I was hoping for. Your enjoyment of this film depends on how well you deal with great thoughts vs great plots. If you like the ethereal quality of Vanilla Sky, this might be your jam. I certainly enjoyed it, perhaps especially for the thoughtful discussion it generates after viewing.

Would such a discovery be best kept secret? Can you even keep something like this secret? And if the meaning of life and death are in flux, is suicide even the end game – mightn’t some take it a step further? This movie’s a little ambitious for its britches, but I admire that.

Redford does great work in his juiciest role in quite a bit – the mad scientist is off-kilter and complex, and perhaps hasn’t quite thought through all the consequences. His sons provide interesting counterpoint: Toby’s adoration and Will’s skepticism temper Thomas’s zeal. Plemmons is delightfully madcap while Segel plays the stoic. The Discovery is well-cast and thought-provoking and worthy of your time.

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “The Discovery

  1. Susan Leighton

    I was very disappointed with Clint Eastwood’s Afterlife. I expected so much more. This film seems like it has potential. I like those metaphysical films. The premise of this reminds me of the beautiful, I Origins which is one of my all time favorite movies. Wonderful review, Jay.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. actualandrew

    This sounds right up my street, I love films that make me think for ages afterwards and I’m obsessed with the idea of life after death so I’ll definitely be giving this one a watch!

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      It was neat to be presented with different reactions to the news, but the biggest thing is how you’ll feel yourself. What would you want to know?

      Like

      Reply
  3. Sean

    Great review. You knew what was coming as you always do and I didn’t as I always do. I found the plot compelling and the explanation at the end of what had been happening during the movie actually made sense. There clearly was a specific point that the film was working toward and that’s often not the case with musings on death/afterlife.

    Like

    Reply
  4. J.

    Sounds right up my street. I also tend to like Robert Redford and Jason Segel, so that’s a bonus. I have the ending I’m hoping for in my head, though… so I might be disappointed.

    Like

    Reply
    1. Jay Post author

      In the very beginning of hte film, Redford is being interviewed by Mary Steenbergen. There’s a great shot of his craggy old face and you just feel: man, this guy. THIS GUY1

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s