David Kim (John Cho) has a disturbed relationship with his daughter Margot (Michelle La) after his wife’s death as both remain quite distant and avoid any references to the latter’s mother. One day, Margot decides to stay at her friend’s for a group study and calls her father thrice past midnight with him failing to receive as he was asleep. The next day, David tries to reach out to her only to fail every single time. At first, he is calm and considers it to be a normal thing but as time and events unfold, he realizes that Margot has gone missing!
What happened to Margot and where did she go? How will David find her now?
Positive Points: –
- The whole film is shot either on the perspective of a laptop or mobile screen or camera recording which is kinda new, fresh and interesting to see.
- John Cho and Debra Messing’s performances.
- Searching builds up the suspense and thrill with great effect and always keeps you guessing about its subsequent events.
Negative Points: –
- Though the overall effect of the film minimises the minute glitches in the film, there are quite some plot-points and events which are questionable and seemed forced just to increase the runtime or add some twist or suspense, including the fact that David decides to investigate his daughter’s disappearance himself along with the police.
- I appreciate the way Searching has been shot but are the circumstances leading to this kind of a cinematographic style apposite in any way? Fairly but not entirely.
Direction, Screenplay & Other Technicalities: –
Discernably, the most interesting aspect of Searching is its cinematography by Juan Sebastian Baron for making a feature film entirely on gadget screens or camera recordings is not easy and hence, commendable. As a debutant, director Aneesh Chaganty nails it with his sheer perspicacity on visual and thematic terms. Of course, Baron deserves applauds for his work but that has to be shared with Chaganty and editors Nick Johnson and Will Merrick, without whom the sleekness of the visuals wouldn’t have been possible. However, I’m not sure if the same technique was completely accurate or not. To be clearer, I’m not sure if people keep their facetime on in their Macs every time and if they favour the same over phone calls. Also, I’m not sure if internet connection in the States is so good that you can do a facetime in the woods, but then, let it be! Let’s give these guys some cinematic liberty even though it costs our characters a lot of mobile data!
Even as the writer of the movie, Chaganty (along with Sev Ohanian) balances different emotions in the story effectually. Be it sorrow, happiness, fear, desperation or even humour, Searching has it all (as required) and no emotional transition is seen as disturbing to the audience. The twists have been induced smartly, so don’t feel bad if you fall into the script traps of assuming the culprit(s). Nevertheless, I wasn’t at all convinced that Detective Vick would ask David to help her in the investigation because that’s not a police protocol. In fact, in reality, the police would have asked David to not interfere in their work and given the plotline, it should have been true here as well. I was doubtful of a few twists towards the third act and the usage of camera recordings by our protagonist to spy one of the suspects. Logically speaking, where did he buy so many cameras and how did he hide them so well that the suspect wouldn’t be able to spot them. In other words what type of cameras were they to be so cost-effective and inconspicuous? Also, how did the suspect’s relations with Margot and their conversation justify the actual events of the story? I won’t claim them to be outright nonsensical but they didn’t make sense completely either, and that pricks.
The entire film stands upon the performances of three actors, John Cho, Debra Messing and Michelle La. Clearly, its headlined by Cho who offers a splendid rendition of the grief-stricken protagonist. He showcases his character’s struggle with impeccable calmness and maturity with brief interludes of catapulted emotions while seldom seeming beyond belief. Debra Messing also exhibits a similar demeanour in the film and gives a convincingly superlative performance. La’s character had a lot of sentiments and what she goes through in the movie is heartbreaking. Given that, it’s only easy to like her and she indeed performs pretty well. The only thing is that she somehow gets a bit overshadowed by the acts of the other two veterans and we don’t blame her for it.
Final Verdict: –
There’s no doubt that Searching is a very thoughtful work of cinema especially in its technical and narrative forms. It builds its suspense and thrill with acute strength and brings them to a fruitful culmination. Its fallacies are too inconspicuous for a generic viewer and given its novelty and excellent execution, it should definitely sneak into your watchlist, something you would never regret.