By John Blackburn
See it! Seriously, check this one out. There’s so much I love about this film. Don’t miss it while it’s still in cinemas. Spare a few hours, and check this flick out!
Ok, I’ll be professional now. This is the directorial debut of Aneesh Chaganty, an screenwriter and director who has helped create many commercials for Google after achieving YouTube viral success on a short film titled ‘Seeds’. After a while, he co-wrote and directed Searching, an award winning feature all filmed through the perspective of various computer and mobile phone screens, as well as different footage from TV news reports and surveillance cameras. It’s a gimmick that’s not entirely original (We have two Unfriended films doing the same thing), but it’s done incredibly well in this flick.
The film follows John Cho as David, a single father of a teenage daughter named Margot (Michelle La). After Margot fails to come home from her late night study group, David goes on a massive search to find out what happened to her overnight with the help of Detective Vick (Debra Messing). And so, the whole film keeps the suspense going on many questions: Where did Margot go? What happened to her? Is she missing or dead?
The story from the start is absolutely filled with a lot of intensity, suspense, and emotion. Partly because of the non-stop intrigue from the many twists and turns the plot takes that keeps you guessing and keeps you invested. It’s also from the emotion and chemistry the family have. In the first few minutes through an Up-inspired montage, you get an idea of what they were like before their mum Pamela (Sara Sohn) passed away due to cancer. You immediately connect with them through videos and photos over the years from various desktops and website layouts (like Margot’s first piano lesson at a young age through the early days of YouTube, for example). And even with the passing of their mum as we cut to today, the connection between the Dad and daughter is incredibly convincing as they both come off as really likeable people.
Chaganty takes the idea of filming only computer screens and their activity to the most creative advantages. For example, because you connect so well with Cho’s fantastic performance as a concerned dad living a parent’s worst nightmare, the face-cam isn’t always necessary for the viewer to emote sadness or concern when he finds new info or ends up back at nowhere. You feel what the dad feels. Also, the filmmakers use this perspective to address the hidden thoughts of each character by writing out sentences before deleting and re-writing them, and work alongside perfect editing to construct some moments of humour.
From the amazing acting, to all the emotions and non-stop tension from the characters and story, Searching is an amazing film that I would consider having on my “Best Movies of 2018” list at the end of the year. This is one that you simply can’t miss while it’s still playing in cinemas.