The thriller SEARCHING takes place exclusively on the screens of PCs, laptops, smartphones and televisions. An idea like this has gone wrong several times. This time it’s different. We’ll reveal why in our review of the film.
The Plot Summary
After David Kim’s (John Cho) 16-year-old daughter disappears without a trace, a local investigation is launched and detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is assigned to the case. When, 37 hours later, there is still no sign of life from Margot (Michelle La), David decides to look in the only place no one has looked before – the place where all secrets are kept these days: he searches his daughter’s laptop…
Movie explanation of the ending
Just recently, Jon M. Chu’s loose “Pretty Woman” variation “Crazy Rich” caused a huge sensation on the international cinema market. After two decades, major Hollywood financiers finally gave the green light to a project that features an almost entirely Asian cast. The result: “Crazy Rich” was a surprise success, and its sequel has long since been decided. The Netflix company, which was also interested in the project, must have bitten itself in the butt after this hype that it didn’t end up winning the contract. But as charming as the film ultimately turned out to be and as much as the result serves as a statement, it’s a bit of a shame that “Crazy Rich” received all of these justified praises before the thriller “Searching” comes into theaters these days . Here too, the focus of the action is primarily on an Asian protagonist. And with it a staging concept that filmmakers have repeatedly worked on in recent years. After the unbearable “Open Windows” with Elijah Wood in the lead role, and the Skype thriller “Unknown User” which falls short of its potential (whose sequel will also be released in United Kingdom at the end of this year), “Searching” is the first film that plays exclusively on various computer screens and monitors, where this principle works from start to finish.
What happened to David’s (John Cho) daughter?
Why should you sit down in a cinema just to stare at a monotonous computer screen for an hour and a half? Levan Gabriadze tried to answer this question four years ago, but “Unknown User” seemed undeveloped, especially visually, apart from the overly incomplete story. Director and screenwriter Aneesh Chaganty (previously directed mainly commercial clips and short films) is now approaching his thriller project “Searching” in a completely different way. Even as a viewer of his film you get the impression that you are simply switching back and forth between different media. Sometimes you sit in front of the computer, sometimes on your smartphone, make phone calls via Facetime, watch YouTube videos or, as the game continues, news outside the World Wide Web. Chaganty carries this idea through consistently and yet there is never an impression of monotony. The reason for this is as follows: The team of Juan Sebastian Baron, Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick, some of whom are proven experts in the field of digital photography, do not just focus on any screen. Like the eyes of a computer user, the camera moves over the various search fields and masks. The change between the individual websites and portals also takes place with a comprehensible naturalness. Just as the main character David uses the Internet here, we also use it.
Nevertheless, with the opening scene, Aneesh Chaganty makes a statement that his “exclusively on screens” image concept means that not just a thriller story can be told from the perspective of a computer user, but much more. A few minutes and a few clicks on PC functions such as the calendar or the photo album bring us closer to the sad background story of the father-daughter constellation than many “normal” feature films with the help of standard dialogue. But that’s not all: the opening of “Searching” is also a foray into technical developments as well as a short excursion into how much the use of (social) media influences and helps us in our lives, but sometimes also puts a lot of pressure on us. Without mallet moralities or false sentimentality, those responsible throw us into a scenario very close to our real lives with the help of their completely natural and fresh leading actor John Cho (soon to be seen in Judy Greer’s directorial debut “Career Day with Obstacles”). The high-concept plot around a missing student unfolds in an absolutely comprehensible way, sometimes leading to completely constructed circles, whose not always completely believable complications are clearly covered up by the neat production. And so in the end you don’t even ask the question of credibility, which seems to be given at any point in the 102 minutes of “Searching”.
Time is running out and daughter Margot has still not been found…
The plot itself follows the typical patterns of films about disappeared people. Circumstantial evidence is collected, leads are followed and false trails are laid. You may have seen it all a thousand times and in countless different genres, but in “Searching” the visual concept clearly takes precedence over everything, without pushing itself obtrusively into the foreground. The search for the girl, whose resolution is quite surprising, is simply carried out on a completely different level than is usually the case in films. It goes without saying that there is still room for topics such as the sensationalism of the media or the pros and cons of digital networking. But despite all these side notes, Aneesh Chaganty also manages to create a very classic crime thriller that differs from the classic WhoDunit in this respect that you simply don’t know what happened for a long time. “Searching” keeps all doors open for much of its running time. Not even the general tone of the film suggests whether we are dealing with a genre entry that is predestined for a classic happy ending or whose ending reveals a shocking truth. Without wanting to answer this question, in the end there is one thing that remains: “Searching” puts you in the mood for classic thrillers again, none of which, at least this year, will be as innovative as this one.
Conclusion: Even though the visual concept of a search for a missing girl that takes place exclusively on computer and television screens is clearly in the foreground in “Searching”, the film is also a really exciting and varied thriller with pleasantly fresh faces.
“Searching” can be seen in USA cinemas nationwide from September 20th.