The Discovery

I saw this film on Netflix and I wondered about it.  It sounded interesting so I gave it a chance.  Lo and behold, there was Robert Redford staring back from my computer screen talking to Mary Steenburgen.  That first five minutes of the film with these two powerhouse actors set up the film very well and the next moment instantly grabbed my attention and engaged me completely.

Netflix has been the place to be for new bingable television series, and the streaming service has been heading into feature film releases as well.  I decided to give the remainder of this film a look.

Set in the near future after “the discovery,” the world was a different place.  Dr. Thomas Harbor (Robert Redford) had a major breakthrough and was able to prove the existence of an afterlife.  However, this led thousands of people to “reset” their lives by killing themselves.

Harbor set up his lab on an island where a group of followers, cult-like, came to join him and help him in his continued research.  Harbor’s son Will (Jason Segel) came to the island to try to reason with his father.  Along the way, Will met Isla (Rooney Mara), whom he saved from her own attempt to kill herself.  Will and Isla begin to grow closer as they try to determine exactly what his father was up to.

Very much of  science fiction story, The Discovery played like a mystery as well.  Will finds a recording of another man’s “memory” and he tries to discover exactly what was happening.

There are some very intriguing metaphysical concepts at work here, and I do like the general story this film presents.  I can’t go into more detail without spoiling what that is and I would not want to do that.

This realization does lead to what is a cool reveal at the end about what had or was happening.

One thing I am not sure the film does a good job with is the character of Dr. Harbor.  He, at times, is played like a true scientist while other times is played like a crazed cult leader.  I am not sure which one of these Redford is really playing, and that is a major issue with the film.  Redford played the role well, but the writing of the character just felt all over the place.

I do like Jason Segel here though.  His story arc is well developed and I enjoyed his relationship with Rooney Mara, though it may have been rushed too much.  I believed that this connection was strong, and that is something that is vital for the ending piece to work.

Unfortunately, the film does not match the intensity of that first five minutes, but it does offer a very intriguing concept of an after life and does allow for an exploration of what this all means.  Despite flaws, The Discovery was a solid film to watch on my day off.

3.3 stars

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