Searching is an engaging, fresh entry in the thriller/noir genre.
After David Kim (John Cho)'s 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened and a detective is assigned to the case. But 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet, where all secrets are kept today: his daughter's laptop. In a hyper-modern thriller told via the technology devices we use every day to communicate, David must trace his daughter's digital footprints before she disappears forever. (Movie Insider)
With the release of Searching, director Aneesh Chaganty, brings us a new phenomenon of filmmaking where the entire movie takes place from the perspective of a computer screen. This is not the first film to be presented in this fashion and it stands on the shoulders as other films like the Unfriended series and Open Windows . However what Chaganty brings to the medium is a more engaging cinematography. He uses multiple windows and slow pushes and pulls of the camera to bring tension to things like a hovering cursor over an icon. This may sound ridiculous, but it actually works quite well on the screen.
Also helping to make this film work are the performances of John Cho and Debra Messing as the father of the missing girl and the detective that is searching for her. There is a solid give-and-take between the two of them and a chemistry that makes the film believable, specifically with Cho’s performance. Having a daughter that is the same age as the girl taken in the film; John Cho’s character convinced me that the steps he took would be similar to the ones I would take if I were in his shoes. With a total running time of about 90 minutes, the film moves at a pace quick enough as to not grow stale as it delivers its twists and turns.
There are multiple references to social media outlets and a nostalgic trip through the history of the PC starting with Windows 95 and journeying forward in time to the iOS we now find on our Macbooks. Some of the younger, hipper crowd make snicker at the use of social media and a few non-techies may get lost by all the different apps referenced but for the most part this plot device works.
On a side note, there is an interesting commentary given on teens and young adults by their reaction to the missing girl in the movie. Initially when David begins inquiring about his missing daughter it is obvious that even though she has hundreds of friends on social media that hardly anyone really knew her. Yet when her story breaks nationally, suddenly each of her classmates were her best friend and looking to share their feelings online or in interviews... It makes a person wonder how far this fictionalization is from our reality.