REVIEW: Searching (2018)

For better and for worse, technology is playing a bigger role in our everyday world. And while there’s no shortage of movies dealing with that particular subject matter, Searching is a movie that takes a fairly conventional idea and tells it in a very unique and modern way. It’s a very refreshing and thrilling film that uses what could have otherwise been nothing more than a mere gimmick to terrific effect.

Indeed, the film’s use of smartphones, computer screens and technology to tell its story is something that really works. It definitely could’ve come across as a bit gimmicky, but it does set the movie apart from other films like it, and it actually really compliments the story that the filmmakers are trying to tell. It’s a story about how people ostensibly use technology to document their lives and express themselves, but on a more personal level it’s a story about parent-child relationships, and it frequently raises the question of whether or not you truly know your child.

The film’s very efficient with how it tells its story. It begins with a fantastic five-minute sequence showing David’s life, and establishing his relationship with his daughter. John Cho gives an absolutely fantastic performance in the film, conveying the sheer desperation and fear that his character is going through.

The film also serves as a great commentary on how the internet works, especially once the news of Margot’s disappearance becomes more open in its second half. It demonstrates just how the internet works, as people begin exploiting the situation and some even start throwing around false accusations, especially towards David.

You really feel like you’re in David’s shoes throughout the entire film. It’s the kind of film that constantly keeps you guessing until the film’s climax and you’re never fully sure of what direction it’s going to go in next. I mean that as both praise and criticism, because I have mixed feelings on the film’s ending. On one hand, it’s a pretty fitting conclusion to the story and ties into the overarching themes of the film rather effectively. But I do think it’s a little too convenient, and it feels like the filmmakers found it difficult to end the movie, or maybe it was studio mandated because it does feel a little too Hollywood-ised. Everything else aside from that is great.

It’s a brilliant commentary on both the use of social media in our everyday world and as well as on parent-child relationships. It’s a great mystery. It’s suspenseful and leaves you feeling very uneasy and emotional after watching it. The acting is superb, especially from John Cho. And first-time director Aneesh Chagnaty really holds the film together, balancing suspense, drama and humour very well for the most part, and, while the ending wraps things maybe a little too neatly, it’s still a great film regardless.

Searching gets an 8/10 and a definite recommendation. Just don’t go in expecting a horror movie because there’s not much in the way of outright horror here. It’s much more of a mystery. But it’s a damn great one, and I hope that if you get the opportunity to see it, see it. It’s well worth your time.

Written by Danny Quinn

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