How about this for a high concept: scientists have proven that the afterlife exists, leading to millions of people all over the world killing themselves so they can get there faster. Against this bizarre backdrop, characters played by Jason Segel and Rooney Mara fall in love. That’s the premise of The Discovery, a new film set to premiere at the Sundance Film Festival that has already been acquired by Netflix.
The Discovery is the second film from director Charlie McDowell, who previously helmed 2014’s high-concept, low-key science fiction drama The One I Love. “Slightly offbeat adult sci-fi” appears to be his element and hey, it’s an element that I’m happy to see him engage in every few years, especially if his other movies are as good as his debut.
Like some of the best low-budget genre movies, the trailer for The Discovery suggests a film that will use big ideas as a backdrop, fuel for more immediate human drama. And let’s put emphasis on the drama here, because this movie looks pretty dark, with Segel and Mara (as well as living legend Robert Redford and the always excellent Jesse Plemmons) doing a lot of frowning and worrying and staring at counters explaining just how many people have committed suicide to escape to the afterlife that they know awaits them on the other side. The concept feels like the start of a black comedy, but the preview suggests a drama sharing DNA with HBO’s fantastic misery-athon The Leftovers.
Of course, I use the phrase “misery-athon” lovingly. This looks fascinating and I like everyone involved and it made our list of most anticipated movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for a good reason. We will hopefully have a review of the film after it premieres on January 20, so keep your eyes open for that. Everyone else won’t have to wait too long, as Netflix has already set a release date of March 31, 2017.
Here’s the official synopsis:
One year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified, millions around the world have ended their own lives in order to “get there.” A man and woman fall in love while coming to terms with their own tragic pasts and the true nature of the afterlife.
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