I’ve only heard good things about Searching. Even if I hadn’t, I’d still at least be interested in checking it out because John Cho is a good actor, and I like the idea of a film shot entirely from the perspective of the devices (phones, laptops, cameras, etc.) that surround us.
It’s weird, but Searching is both aided and hampered by its nontraditional perspective. On one hand, it’s pretty neat. A teenage girl goes missing, and her father (John Cho) uses her devices, social media, email and more to search for clues that might help him figure out where she may be. It’s never particularly exciting watching someone click around on a computer, but director Aneesh Chaganty heavily uses video calls and chats to go alongside the frantic scrolling, and that really puts a lot of engaging elements on the screen at once. With that being said, once you settle in, it really does start to feel as though it’s just someone typing things into Google, and the novelty of such a limited perspective wears off. I kept waiting for the film to fully dazzle, but even with some clever twists and turns, it struggles to get there, probably because its main approach is two people arguing via Facetime.
Here’s the deal, I know I’ve sold Searching as a so-so flick, but I actually did enjoy it. Yeah, it stumbles a bit in the back half because its story wants to soar, but the device-perspective just doesn’t really allow it, but there’s still good drama to be had. Also, I appreciate that the film serves as a stark reminder that everyone is very connected and living in an age where even if you’re trying to fly under the radar (or you straight up go missing), you’re more than likely still responsible for a solid digital footprint.
One Last Thought:
Debra Messing isn’t particularly amazing or something in Searching, but she’s pretty solid and it made me wonder why she hasn’t appeared in more movies. Hell, you’d think that her Will & Grace fame alone would have landed her quality roles for a bit, but all I’m seeing on her IMDB is stuff like the made for TV version of Dirty Dancing. Gross. Wonder what the deal is?