By Ian Morton
A messy ending doesn’t quite do enough to save the brooding drama about life after death.
After discovering the existence of an afterlife, Neurosurgeon Will (Jason Segel) goes to meet with his scientist father, Thomas (Robert Redford) as the world comes to grips with the idea that life is not the end.
Many movies have taken on the afterlife. Whether faced with the idea of life after death or keeping memories alive once were six feet under, many have attempted to create debate with intriguing plots and bonkers narrative. While The Discovery does manage to find its niche amongst an enviable list of films within its genre, it ultimately never really develops or provide a satisfying conclusion to the intriguing notion it opens with.
While director Charlie McDowell does a decent job at setting the scene, the film unfortunately suffers from inexperience once the story gets more complex. Never really managing to gain pace, we move slowly from one scene to the next without truly developing either the core themes or the characters themselves. This lack of definition results in something that never really connects with audiences, while at the same time touching upon things that so many other films have done better.
This lack of identity is most felt however through the tone of the film. Shifting within its own genre, the story struggles tremendously from not knowing what it truly wants to be. Touching on elements of a dark comedy, the tension of a thriller, the futurism of sci-fi and the oddball eccentricity of an indie pick, we are thrown about so much, the core moments never hit with its intended impact. The result is a fairly monotonous narrative that never really does justice to what it could have been.
To fit the ever changing tone comes some rather random casting choices. While lead Jason Segel excels at more of the comedic elements, it ultimately falls to the experience of Robert Redford to provide any real charisma. Rooney Mara gives a perfectly fine performance but never really moves from her comfort zone, opting to play a familiar character rather than try something new. Luckily, the cast is relatively safe, all performing well but none truly excelling.
Overall, The Discovery tries to carve an interesting niche but a real lack of identity leads the feature to feel like an amalgamation of others rather than create its own philosophy. 2 out of 5 stars.
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