Searching is a 2018 American thriller film directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Shot from the point of view of computer screens, smartphones and portable camera devices, it pivots on David Kim (John Cho) and his troubles whilst trying to find his missing 16-year-old daughter Margot Kim (Michelle La) with the help of a local police detective in Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing).
Taking into account the nature of the film’s production, I’d say John Cho did very well portraying his character. He not only owned what was needed of him from an emotional standpoint but also from a technological standpoint. He plays a humble and loving father whose perfect life is rocked with one misfortune after another; the latest one being the sudden disappearance of her one and only daughter and thus he has to employ the use of social media to look for her.
I felt for David Kim throughout the film’s run-time as he goes through a lot of struggle reaching out to anyone who might have known where her daughter might be while also looking for crucial clues pertaining Margot’s possible whereabouts through personal online research. There were clear motivations behind his character and John Cho was exceptional in fleshing out the latter through his character both in speech and in action.
Speaking of Margot, her arc in the film is the most important one out of all the others and I extensively liked how touching and substantially riveting it turned out to be. The flick feeds you bits and pieces of her private life through her father’s investigations and some of the revelations that are made about her are quite relatable. I could see her strife mirrored in any other person who’d be unfortunate enough to be in her sort of predicament and that essentially, is what I need from characterization. That kind of thing moves me.
Debra Messing is also on here as Rosemary Vick, an experienced detective who is assigned to help in the search for Margot. For a big chunk of the 1st and 2nd Act, I didn’t really pay too much attention to Messing’s character since she wasn’t as investing as the previous two that I have just talked about but that changed in the 3rd Act. She does have a big bite on the plot cherry, one which I won’t shed light on because it’s a major spoiler but you ought to know that I was both surprised and shocked by it. Enough said.
The Plot, Merits and Demerits.
As a director, when you decide you are going to do a movie and that you are going to have it shot using non-conventional means, you need to be comprehensively certain that your movie has a story so compelling that the audience don’t keep coming back to how and what was used to shoot it. Steven Soderbergh did this extremely well with this year’s psychological horror Unsane which he shot entirely on an IPhone 7 Plus. It raked in a lot of money in the Box Office and thus it proved that what it did can be done and to great effect. That said, does Searching pack up as much punch as far as plot is concerned? Well, yes it does.
Aside from the emotional impact that of the story, there is a considerable progressiveness to it. Normally when I am watching a movie and it’s not as liberal, I tend to force some distractions where I check for new messages on my phone or partially take my mind off what is going on but I didn’t do that with this flick. Not at all. One thing always led to another with the ongoing investigations on Margot’s missing person’s case and I was engaged by that; my eyes were fixed on the screen all the way and I was intrigued to know what lied ahead in the story.
That brings me to the suspense; it’s beautiful to say the least. Certain things happen and certain revelations are made as I mentioned earlier that don’t necessarily concern Michelle La’s character directly. I didn’t expect them and I liked that I didn’t.
Another notable and laudable thing about the film is how good the exposition was in relation to characterization. I have reason to believe the director Aneesh Chaganty knew that it would be a herculean task to set up the characters in any other way. I appreciate that she went the exposition route and I would have done the same thing myself if I was directing the film in spite of the extendable run-time. Lastly, there’s not much to go by in terms of cinematography but the much that was done with what they went for was exceptional.
Nonetheless, the latter does tend to reel in a certain flaw when you factor in visual storytelling; the two aspects become adhesive as a result. The movie puts too much weight on the social media devises used by the characters to paint a picture of what is going on in particular scenes to the audience; scenes that would have been more impactful if conventional cinematography was applied but for some reason, that didn’t happen.
A good example of this in the flick, without giving out to much, is when John Cho’s character sets up cameras all over the room he is in before interrogating someone he considers a strong suspect in her daughter’s disappearance. What cracked me up is that the film tries tricking you into thinking that the cameras that David Kim sets up are majorly for interrogation purposes but in reality, it’s just the movie trying to make up for the fact that every scene just can’t just be about the main character interacting with other characters via texting or face-timing. I really hope you get the point I’m driving here.
Then, of course, we have the almighty product placements. I need not talk too much about the mentioned but all I can say is that it’s very apparent where a substantial chunk of the movie’s budget came from; just saying.
I think I’ve covered everything I needed to let you know about Searching. It’s a motion-picture that is definitely worth your time and you should definitely check it out though I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s a must-watch. If you have the patience to wait until the DVD version drops then well and good.