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Charlie McDowell Explores Ideas of the Afterlife, Memory and Love in Netflix’s ‘The Discovery’

Charlie McDowell’s

The Discovery

, his follow-up to hit indie film

The One I Love

, is about a neurologist (Jason Segel) grappling with the idea that his father (Robert Redford) has found proof that there is an afterlife.

With Justin Lader, who’s my writing partner, we started with a sort of big universal question: ‘What if the afterlife was scientifically proven and what would that mean for the world?’ How would people react in today’s society or in a heightened society in the near future?” McDowell tells


. “We came back to the universal question, which is ‘Where do we go when we die?’ We’re programmed at a young age to think about it, even in cartoons, when a character dies, the character floats to heaven or hell, and these ideas are obviously in religion. These interest everyone from the beginning of time. For us, it’s really interesting to propose a question of ‘What if it was guaranteed we went somewhere, and we knew if we went somewhere?’ That was the first basic question and then we came up with this idea shortly after, well, ‘Is death ‘death’ anymore because you’re continuing your life somewhere else? Are suicide and murder the same thing as we know them to be?’ That’s how we started and we used that as the backdrop to this world that we’re exploring but, really, it’s about our main characters in this world, and it becomes mostly focused on a love story between a man and a woman and a father story as well.”

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