A scientist, played by none other than avuncular old Robert Redford, makes a discovery: irrefutable proof of the existence of an afterlife. Surely that would be good news? Well, perhaps not, when it sets of a wave of suicides by people who are certain that the next world must be a good deal better than the current one (which strikes us as a hell of an assumption, but that’s a philosophical debate for another time.
That’s the premise of The Discovery, a new Netflix original movie hitting the streaming service on March 31. Jason Segel co-stars as Redford’s estranged son, while Rooney Mara also crops up in a supporting role. It’s been described as a romantic sci-fi film, which is a subgenre that doesn’t get a lot of attention – although co-star Mary Steenburgen has fallen in love with two time-travelers over the course of her career*, so maybe her presence bodes well?
Handled carefully, The Discovery could be a smart look at mortality, love and the tension between faith and rationality. Fumbled, it could be a hokey mess of longing looks and pat answers to big questions. We’re hoping for the former, though.
* Steenburgen fell for Malcolm McDowell’s time-lost HG Wells in 1979’s Time After Time and, of course, Doc Brown in 1990’s Back to the Future Part III. Interestingly, the director of The Discovery, Charlie McDowell, is her and McDowell’s son.