Title – Searching (2018)
Director – Aneesh Chaganty (feature debut)
Cast – John Cho, Debra Messing, Michelle La
Plot – After his 16 year old daughter Margot (La) never returns home from a night out, single father (Cho) takes matters into his own hands as he begins to investigate Margot’s online world in hope it will lead him to the answers surrounding her mysterious disappearance.
“I didn’t know my daughter”
Review by Eddie on 18/12/2018
Working with what may at first appear to be a rather gimmicky concept and delivery, Searching ends up being a surprisingly effective thriller made by utilising common household/personal items such as laptops and mobile phones to create an immersive and often well-thought out missing person’s narrative.
Directed by first time director Aneesh Chaganty with support from Wanted filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov, who producers here, Searching follows John Cho’s dedicated single parent David Kim whose trying to uncover the reasoning behind his 16 year old daughter Margot’s sudden disappearance, with nothing more than some unhelpful detectives and a previously hidden online world that Margot lived in to help him in his cause.
For a first time filmmaker, Chaganty does a fantastic job combining all these elements into one cohesive whole and while for a time at the start of the film the delivery is a little off-putting, you quickly forget you are watching a film largely taking place over online searches, social media stalking and face time conversations, with Searching perfectly encapsulating our modern day reliance on these technologies to function to in turn explore its narrative arc.
Front and centre to all of this is Cho whose given the best role of his career yet as the likeable David.
Still best known for slacker stoner comedy Harold and Kumar, Cho is constantly engaging as David who will stop at nothing to uncover the mystery of his daughter’s disappearance. It mustn’t be an easy task delivering an acting turn in such a non-conforming way but Cho is up for it and displays all the emotions you would expect from such a story despite its unique delivery.
With such strong beginning (featuring a nostalgic technology overload) and middle-acts, it’s unfortunate for Searching that things take a rather detrimental turn for the worse when a late act twist leads to an increasingly unbelievable and misguided finale.
So much of Chaganty’s work leading up to the films eye rolling end game feels so well put together that it’s hard to complain too much but it does feel like Searching was the type of film that had the idea and smarts but just not the foresight to wrap it all up in the final stages, making Searching a constantly engaging and enjoyable exercise but one that finishes in a largely forgettable way.
Final Say –
A seen a million times before thriller that feels fresh and new thanks to its smartly designed construction, Searching is a lot better than many would’ve expected it to be, let down only by its mediocre last act.
3 ½ Bieber concerts out of 5