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My Review of "The Discovery"

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Really enjoyed this movie. Here's the review from my blog:


I thought it would be interesting to do reviews of movies I find fascinating. If you know me, you know that I really like independent movies, usually in the sci-fi genre. Some of my favorite movies are low-budget movies that don't get a lot of press, don't get a lot of audience, but are way better (in my opinion) than most of the big-budget blockbusters that come out throughout the year.

Here are some examples of some of my favorite movies in this vein:






(These all star the fabulous and underrated Brit Marling, who also wrote a couple of these movies.)





I could add more to this list, but since most of you probably have never heard of any of these, I'll just stop haha.

Anyway here is the movie I watched tonight. I wouldn't put it up with the five movies above, but it was very good. It's called The Discovery.


As you can see, it starts Jason Segel, Rooney Mara and Robert Redford. The premise of the movie is probably more interesting than the execution, but after it was done I just sat there, with a few tears in my eyes, reflecting on what I saw.

Here is the basic plot: A neuroscientist (Robert Redford) in the near future has proven to the world that there is actually a life after death. This has some disturbing consequences, one of the biggest being that millions of people across the globe commit suicide due to the now proven promise of a life beyond the grave. Because of this, the neuroscientist has withdrawn from the public life and has devoted himself to helping people get over thoughts of killing themselves. He shelters them and tries to give them meaning in this life. One of his sons (Jason Segel) has distanced himself from his father due to their mother's tragic death but decides to come visit him and his brother. On the ferry ride, he meets a young woman (Rooney Mara) and strikes up a conversation. We find out soon what her reasoning is for being on the ferry boat.

The movie centers around two things. First is Robert Redford's "discovery": he has figured out how to record the afterlife through a machine. Simply attach the device to someone, flatline them, and the video records what happens as they die. Simply bring them back to life, and no harm no foul. However, it doesn't seem to work the way Redford believes it does....

The second thing is the relationship between Will (Segel) and Isla (Mara). They strike up a romance and also throughout the movie "discover" that perhaps they know each other beyond the chance encounter on the ferry.

To say anymore about the plot would give away some massive spoilers. However, I found the premise fascinating and I thought there was great acting, clever dialogue and many extremely moving scenes where I stopped the movie to reflect on what I just witnessed.

This movie actually does remind me of two of the above movies: Another Earth, and i Origins. The former deals with second chances and living with regret; the latter deals with evolution and the question of reincarnation or some kind of afterlife.

The Discovery certainly brought up many questions in my head that I can't really come to terms with; these questions are questions that people throughout several millenia have wrestled with. Questions like:

1. Is there really an afterlife?

2. What does that afterlife look like?

3. If one knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was life beyond the grave, would it inspire them to live better here on earth, or would it make it worse?

4. For those who have a hope in the afterlife, does question #3 apply in equal measure even though there is no proof of life after death?

5. Does part of the afterlife involve some kind of a purgatory or karma-like state in which you get a chance to right the wrongs of your life, or perhaps deal with regrets or wishes?

I'm sure other questions are floating in my head, including the implications of suicide - considering my brother took his life a couple of years ago - but that's enough for now. I love movies that cause me to think and examine myself, and The Discovery does that well. This movie is a Netflix original, so if you have Netflix, you can see it for free. I mean, you probably subscribe monthly so it's not necessarily free, but it is very accessible. Check it out!

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Cool. Thanks for the leads. I'm glad someone with a humanist perspective is creating art like this. It helps to shape humanity and get people asking deeper questions than pop culture.


There are some people that I've met who seem like very old friends, and there is almost a recognition when we meet. Other people seem to be very "young" and rather shallow. Perhaps this is where the idea of reincarnation comes from. I find that in dreams I can have seemingly complex relationships with people I've never met here, but they seem to have complete personalities. Some authors tap into this shared experience to create characters for books. There is even a book called "Ensouling Language" that tries to teach how to do this by working with the subconscious which is a fountain of intense creativity. This isn't to say that these relationships were or are genuine, but it doesn't discount the possibility. I remember one guy I met at a political event and as soon as our eyes met, we both lit up and were just certain we had met before. We were like old friends very pleased to see each other again. But we had no connection at all here. We both acknowledged the oddness of our reactions, which were mutual.


I've thought about karma quite a bit, and have never liked the idea that there is a panel of judges of sorts. But it is clear to me that there are some people who are intensely connected to a healing/loving/life-giving way of being, and others that are so very not, and they can even come from the same physical family and upbringing. I do wonder about that. I look at my own family and wonder why certain choices were made and how we each ended up the way we did. I think perhaps that we "judge" ourselves and try to find ways to experience life that will help us make choices that are more "good". Or maybe all of this is a creative abstraction, perhaps our greatest human ability, and we simply live and die and all the seeming recognitions are just pattern-matching to elements of personality that we like.


I do analyze my own choices a lot and wonder at my own thoughts/desires/and motivations. I do think that our choices are what show who we really are (with a nod to Professor Dumbledore).


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