If you like watching those True-crime stories about human interest mysteries, "Searching" is right up your alley. If you like thrillers about a determined protagonist that has to wade through a series of plot twists and plot turns to get to the bottom of a mystery, then "Searching" has what you're looking for. If you like dramas about Fathers that feel disconnected from their teenage child, then "Searching" is a movie for you. If you like communicating with people via messaging or video platforms on the internet, then "Searching" will feed that addiction. If you are fascinated by what you can discover and accomplish on your computers or smart phones, then "Searching" should wow you.
Directed by Aneesh Chagantry, this story absolutely captivated me right from the get-go, all the way until the end. At times it was heartwarming or emotional, and in other times it was quite thrilling or suspenseful. The story manages to take me on a journey that's filled with twists and turns, which is what makes a good mystery very enjoyable to watch. Besides the clever plot, what also made this film so effective and fresh is that it's part of this burgeoning "screen life" film genre, where the majority of the time we are watching a computer screen or a video image captured from a device.
The plot reveals and story flows incredibly well in this "screen life" format, which allows us the chance to be entertained passively by what's happening on screen, or to be active in proactively looking for clues on a computer desktop screen. There are times when I would see something at a corner of the (computer) screen or lines of dialogue in a messaging thread, that looks like an important piece of information, and then the movie acknowledges my discovery and focuses on it. That's awesome. The way this movie does these kinds of plot development is quite entertaining to watch, and justifies the rationale of why the story is told to us via this method of story telling. There is a lot of plot conveniences though, but the writing is so solid that I'll have to just chalk it up to them being clever coincidences instead
Another highlight to point out that makes this movie a success is John Cho as David Kim, the Father of this story. He goes through the wringer in this, and had to express many different kinds of emotions that have to seem very naturalistic. John Cho also had to act primarily just in front of a webcam, which seems very appropriate for a movie like this. It's hard not to root for John Cho here, because he and his character both deserves that. I should also point out that it can be entertaining to see David Kim navigate through the internet, because he isn't always knowledgeable in some of the things his Daughter does on the world wide web.
I get that it's easy to dismiss "Searching" as another movie trying out the cheap gimmick that is the "screen-life" genre, but then you'll be missing out on something fresh and special here. This is an experience absolutely worth checking out, and arguably the first of it's genre that should actually be considered great.
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