Film Reviews

Some films wanting to be innovative let gimmicks overtake good content. Other times, the better times, an unusual approach invigorates an idea and adds interest and value to the story. That's the case with the unusual "Searching," its claim to uniqueness is that the entire 1 hour 40 minutes is communicated through a medley of social media, quite perfect for 2018.

As the title "Searching" announces, this is a story about searching, in this instance for Margot Kim who left home one day and disappeared, leaving several puzzling posts as a lure to her friends and family. The central thoroughly distraught character is Margot's father David who finds he does not know his daughter – not her friends, that she quit piano lessons six months ago, has a lot of social media involvement and a great deal more. No spoilers here since a fair amount of suspense builds tension throughout the investigation of the missing 15, almost 16-year-old high school student. 

Most impressive, the complex media transactions function as a source of camaraderie, as a distraction and as a trap. The immersion includes texting, Facebook, Instagram, home videos, local and national news feeds, and, especially, FaceTime. The fuzziness of the images does get tiresome and, at times, headache inducing, though the multi-layered computer screens keep the visual appeal high. This sustained reliance on transactional platforms is mind-boggling. As David, John Cho handles it all entirely convincingly, alternating between concerned and infuriated, bobbing and weaving with the demands of detective Vick, a fine Debra Messing.

Director/co-writer Aneesh Chaganty has said that the editing posed daunting challenges through 18 months of hard work by Nick Johnson and Will Merick, both also the directors of the extraordinary virtual photography. The action moves apace with clever twists and turns. Also of note, given the success of "Crazy Rich Asians," the central family is Asian though no comments focus on that, exactly right. They represent Americans like any others, coming to understand they need to get more in touch with their flesh-and-blood loved ones. "Searching" won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award. Check local listings.


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