I knew of this film vaguely but never thought it would be released directly to Netflix. Normally I wouldn’t care to check out a streaming service film but I am a die hard Rooney Mara fan and will watch anything she is in. She’s going to have a busy year and was already in Terence Malick’s excellent Song to Song. Going in I didn’t know exactly what to expect but my thoughts are now that this film had an interesting concept but the delivery was disappointing.
The film follows a man named Will (Jason Segel) who meets a beautiful, gorgeous, memorizing woman named Isla (Mara) on a ferry. He soon realizes that she has a tragic past and she tries to kill herself soon upon arrival on the island. Will’s father is a famous figure who has discovered that there is an afterlife and who’s life work is to get flatlining people to produce a memory of it. The film has a nice high concept. It sounds really interesting but the storytelling waned quite a bit.
The film couldn’t avoid dragging through a slow and at times tangled and confusing build. There is no real chemistry between Mara and Segel, honestly it was an odd pairing that didn’t work out. I appreciate Segel in comedic efforts but a serious role was kind of weird for him. Mara is good and committed in this film but the script kind of fails the stars. Riley Keough is also quite good in her limited role. Its a real missed opportunity because this film could have been a solid film with a brilliant idea. I can see why it was direct to Netflix now.
I will say that the films final reveals were quite good. It made sense and while I didn’t really see it coming the eureka moment that follows is satisfying, even if other stuff in the film didn’t really build well to that moment. I’m not exactly in a rush to see Charlie McDowell’s other work unless he can develop his ideas well and really move forward from there.