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The Discovery (2017)

TV-MA | | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi | 31 March 2017 (USA)
1:44 | Trailer
Two years after the afterlife is scientifically proven, a man attempts to help a young woman break away from her dark past.


Charlie McDowell
3,852 ( 619)





Credited cast:
Robert Redford ... Thomas
Mary Steenburgen ... Interviewer
Brian McCarthy ... Sound Recordist
Jason Segel ... Will
Rooney Mara ... Isla
Jesse Plemons ... Toby
Ron Canada ... Cooper
Riley Keough ... Lacey
Connor Ratliff ... Coroner
M.J. Karmi ... Janice (as MJ Karmi)
Kimleigh Smith ... Hospital Receptionist
Willie C. Carpenter ... Hospital Janitor (as Willie Carpenter)
Wendy Makkena ... Mom
Adam Khaykin ... Oliver (as Adam Morrison Khaykin)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lindsay Schnebly Lindsay Schnebly ... Newscaster
Learn more

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Writer-director Charlie McDowell returns to Sundance this year with a thriller about a scientist (played by Robert Redford) who uncovers scientific proof that there is indeed an afterlife. His son is portrayed by Jason Segel, who's not too sure about his father's "discovery", and Rooney Mara plays a mystery woman who has her own reasons for wanting to find out more about the afterlife. Written by Barry Brown, Park City, UT

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Did You Know?


Nicholas Hoult was cast but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with the movie The Death & Life of John F. Donovan (2018). He was replaced by Jason Segel. See more »


The interview at the beginning is obviously given a blue hue for a lifeless feel and the curtains are open for symbolic reasons. If this had been a real video interview, the drapes would have been closed or the exterior light would be blown out as seen, which creates far too much contrast. The alternative would have been to stop down the shutter and ramp up the lights by 300%, which would have greatly reduced the contrast, creating an easily viewable image. Any good video producer would have known this an adjusted accordingly. See more »


[first lines]
Interviewer: Dr. Harber, before we're live, I just wanted to say thank you for choosing me.
Thomas: [warming up his voice] Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Interviewer: The rich history you have with other journalists...
Thomas: I chose you precisely because we don't have a history. Now, don't fuck it up.
Producer: Fifteen seconds...
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Let's All Get Together
Written by Martie Echito
Performed by Martie Echito
Courtesy of Fervor Records
See more »

User Reviews

A Great Idea That Just Never Comes Together
30 April 2017 | by zkonedogSee all my reviews

There are a number of good things that can be said about Netflix's "The Discovery": It is good to see Netflix tackling big-budget, dramatic/sci-fi fare. It's encouraging that actors with the reputation such as Robert Redford has are now willing to work with the premiere streaming service. Plus, "The Discovery" actually has a germ of a really great idea at its core. Unfortunately, however, the film never really comes together like it should, essentially wasting that inventive idea with clunky acting and even worse pacing.

For a basic plot summary, "The Discovery" takes place in a future where noted scientist Thomas (Redford) has definitively proved the existence of an afterlife. The problem? Now people are committing suicide by the millions knowing that "something else" is beyond this mortal coil. The next logical step for Thomas, then? Discovering exactly what this afterlife consists of. This is where his son Will (Jason Segel) comes into the picture, visiting the scientist for the first time since a major falling-out to try and convince him to scrap the entire project. Along the way, younger son Toby (Jesse Plemons) chooses sides, while Will finds a mysterious woman (played by Rooney Mara) who has her own relationship with the "discovery".

Like I said, the concept behind this film is fascinating: What would happen if the afterlife were proved scientifically? Also, and I won't give away spoilers here, but even the research into what that afterlife consists of is fascinating in what it entails.

Unfortunately, though, the film is only a middling effort because of two glaring missteps that drag down the whole production:

1. The romance angle between Will & Isla. If you've seen the film "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", that one nails this dynamic much better. In "Discovery", however, there is just no reason to believe that these two will fall in love, much less how that angle comes to dominant much of the film's runtime.

2. Perhaps better acting would have saved that romance angle, but alas it wasn't to be found here. Mara is much too bland as Isla, while Segel is terribly miscast as the lead. More than blank, brooding stares were needed for the role, but that is all Segel seems to be able to provide here. Redford is his usually solid self, and Plemmons steals the show from time to time, but other than that none of the other acting performances are above average (with some being quite below that line).

So, while "The Discovery" is a film that I really want to like more than 5-stars out of 10, the end product just isn't worthy of anything more. Had the sci-fi aspect been the focus throughout, I think that would have improved things considerably. A better, less confusing ending would have helped as well. As it stands, though, "Discovery" comes off as a very second-rate "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" clone. Netflix may be taking strides in the right direction when it comes to original feature films, but there is still a ways to go to compete with the big studios.

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Release Date:

31 March 2017 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Discovery See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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