The Discovery: A Review

A review of the new Netflix movie about the Afterlife…

TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE, DEATH

Today’s What I’m Reading Wednesday is actually more of a What I’m Watching Wednesday, because I watched a movie on Netflix this week that has really stuck with me.

The Discovery is a Netflix original, starring Jason Segel, Robert Redford and Rooney Mara, it follows Will and Isla, two individuals with pasts that they can’t seem to escape from. Will’s father (played by Redford) made the groundbreaking discovery that there is an afterlife, leading to a drastic increase in the number of suicides worldwide. Isla is a young woman who meets Will by chance and subsequently moves into the compound run by Will’s father.

Without spoiling the entire plot, suffice to say strange happenings ensued, and everything was not as it seemed.

The entire premise of this movie is dangerous, it allows the viewer to imagine a world where science proves the existence of an afterlife and suicide is an everyday occurrence.

In one of the opening scenes, Will is speaking with his brother who mentions that a mutual friend had committed suicide and Will asks his brother whether he attended the funeral, the brother basically says something to the effect of “if I went to everyone’s funeral, I’d have no time for anything else.” This is obviously done in order to demonstrate that “the Discovery” as it is termed has changed the world for everyone, not just those seeking an answer to the question of “what is the Afterlife?” But it raises more serious questions about the ethical ramifications of knowing that there is an afterlife and publishing these findings on a global scale.

Will and Isla discover that things are not exactly as they seem, and both find themselves compelled to discover what is truly behind the Discovery that has so changed the course of human history and scientific knowledge of the Afterlife. This compulsion to find the truth leads them to fall in love with each other in a rather schmaltzy overplayed romantic trope wherein two people who view themselves as “others” or “outsiders” find comfort in each other and that comfort turns to romance (as modern cinema is so quick to point out, men and women can’t just be friends).

Without spoiling the entire film, suffice to say that the romance is cheesy, the sci-fi/horror elements fall short of being scary or intimidating.

The only saving grace of this movie is the fact that while there is a lot of suicide discussion, it definitely does not glorify the act of suicide and instead at various points of the movie, it addresses what the people left behind feel.

The romance is cheesy, the sci-fi is poorly thought out and the acting is more like the cast has been held at gunpoint and are bored with the entire thing simultaneously, which is impressive when you think about it.

Having said that, the appearance of the cast being held at gun point may actually have been a style choice because of the cult leader like status that Robert Redford’s character has created. That atmosphere of oppression and entrapment could have worked well had the cast played it slightly differently.

All in all The Discovery is an average movie that has tried to fit too many genres in one movie, and failed to deliver on any of them. This movie gets a rating of 2.5 out of 5 from me.

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