Shot from the point of view of computers and smartphones, “Searching” plays like a Hitchcock thriller with its timing, precision, and secrets. Written and directed by short film director Aneesh Chaganty, the movie keeps you glued from beginning to end.
John Cho stars as a father named David Kim, who introduces to his happy life on the internet with his wife (Sara Sohn) and daughter Margot (Michelle La). He loses his wife to cancer, and constantly reminds his daughter to take out the trash. One night after study group, she tries to call him, while he’s sleeping; and when he tries calling her in the morning, no response.
He starts investigating her high school, Apple laptop, and piano classes, which he pays for ($100 per session). Turns out, she cancelled her piano classes, has been transferring funds to herself, and none of her Facebook friends are helpful. So he turns to Detective Vick (Debra Messing) for help. She assumes she ran away, but David knows his daughter. At least he thinks he does.
“Searching” keeps you going with how the mystery unfolds, and how the father deals with the outcome. John Cho was recently in “Gemini” last spring, and he was fine in that. I actually loved him in this more, because of the actor is able to ease his emotions. This movie is undeniable proof that he’s more than just “Harold and Kumar” or “American Pie” or “Star Trek.” He’s given the right role at the right time.
I also admire the ways it chooses to be shot from the point of view of computers and laptops. We’ve seen this kind of thing before, but this movie does it with such riveting intentions. It looks clear, it shows us what YouTube and Facebook used to look like back then, and it organizes the texts, face chats, and phone calls.
The movie offers a lot of things most generic thrillers fail to hold. It has patience, it has precision, and it has writing. But more importantly, it has organization. It organizes the secrets, twists, and strangers, and it gives the father the intelligence he needs to find his daughter. Other than some confusing things (which I can’t say due to spoiler alerts), the movie keeps on riding.
Kudos to Aneesh Chaganty for bringing it altogether in the style of Hitchcock. Starting off from short films, he might have a future ahead of him, and “Searching” is a fantastic start.