Netflix Now: The Discovery (2017) Reviewed

With new proof of the afterlife, millions of people choose to commit suicide hoping to reach a new existence or to have a revived chance with family members who now live in the beyond. 

Netflix has leveled up with their release of The Discovery. This dramatic sci-fi thriller stars Robert Redford, Jason Segel, and Rooney Mara in one of the streaming service's best films to date. Played like a hybrid that crosses themes of Flatliners with the hypnotic threads of Inception, this musing on the afterlife is a slow paced artistic gem that poses questions of mortality and our existence on this plane. With this excellent cast, the film allows its audience to actually connect with the characters and their quest for full knowledge of the other side. 

Years ago, we all would have laughed if someone told us Redford was going to star in a direct to streaming movie. Amazingly, this is one of his best roles in years. He plays the calm and collected Thomas with ease, delivering a performance worthy of any major cinematic release. His character is the scientist behind "the discovery" which over time has led him astray and into a world of personal obsession. He's now in self imposed exile as his efforts have devolved into a cult like commune where his followers are beginning to question his research and the machine he's built to experience the afterlife. Throwing in the talents of Segel and Mara, The Discovery never really falters in its story, although some might not like the ultimate resolution. 

Yeah bro, I heard. No more Dragon Tattoo for me.
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Much of the film is cold and dreary. Scenes are drawn out and speculative. The movement between edits are somber and mysterious. The entirety of The Discovery feels like a foggy dream state where characters are given just enough back story and dialogue. Segel, just out of a Hollywood hiatus, strips bare all his comedic leanings and once again tries his hat at drama. He excels at finding a solid footing with a narrative that's contemplative and bold in its presentation of self harm and suicide. Mara, in usual fashion, throws herself into character, becoming a mother in mourning that wants to reconnect with her lost child. Jesse Plemons backs them both with another excellent performance as the socially maladjusted brother.

The Discovery is a slow burn that doesn't give the audience too much to go on. Many details are left to the viewer to decide. Some may find this frustrating. Others, like myself, enjoyed the artistic way that director Charlie McDowell left some open threads in his final product. The film is depressing in all the right ways and truly captures the essence of loss, broken familial bonds, and the struggle to find meaning in our lives. If you like putting your mind through the ringer, The Discovery is one you must see. 

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