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FILM REVIEW: Searching3 min read

1 May 2019 2 min read


FILM REVIEW: Searching3 min read

Reading Time: 2 minutes

After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her.

Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Year: 2018
Cast: John Cho, Michelle La, Sara Sohn
Language: English
Runtime: 102 min

Review by Leon Lau

I can’t remember the last time a thriller has truly shaken and surprised me. The idea of telling an entire movie through a computer screen sounds like an absurd gimmick, but Searching (2018) is one of the most original films in recent years, and easily one of the most overlooked ones.

The story follows David Kim (John Cho), a father who hacks into his missing daughter’s account (Michelle La) to look for clues about her disappearance. Right from the get go, Searching sucks you in because of its bizarre presentation.

For those unaware, Searching is not shot like a typical movie. So imagine a found footage movie where the footage is made up of screen capture recordings of any electronic device you own. It can range from laptops, phones, security cameras, literally anything that has a screen that can be recorded is used. It sounds like a gimmick, but it isn’t.

The audience essentially views everything from David Kim’s eyes because of this format, and the screen zooms in and pans on information to simulate his eye movement, giving it a first person perspective vibe. It’s not a style that’s meant to attract attention, but to completely draw you into the story with little effort, and you can’t help but put yourself in his situation.

Like the title suggests, Searching really forces you to (pardon the pun) search for clues in every frame. Every little detail feels like it could make or break the case, and just like David Kim, I found my eyes darting wildly across the screen in hopes of discovering the next clue to save his daughter.

Having seen Searching a year ago in cinemas, I was worried that the film wouldn’t hold up upon a rewatch. But I’m happy to report that Searching is just as brilliant on the small screen as it was on the big screen. The story remains compelling because of smart twists, clever editing, and strong direction that keeps you glued to the screen.

Besides breaking ground in its presentation, Searching is also the first Hollywood thriller to be headlined by an Asian-American actor, and John Cho does not disappoint. Having to work off green screens is challenging enough, but here Cho has to act within the confines of a static camera that was inches away from his face.

It’s a tall order for any actor but he delivers an incredible performance that should have earned him his first Oscar nomination. Cho is featured in nearly every scene of Searching but never breaks character or hits a false note. It’s a phenomenal portrayal of frustration, anger and confusion that is incredibly emotional to watch.

This is original edge-of-your-seat thriller stuff that forces you to pay attention. Unlike recent thrillers that bank on guns, violence, and quick cuts, Searching worms its way into your brain with its original presentation and memorable story.

Introverted gamer who enjoys chilling out at home. Binges Netflix and Terrace House on occasion and lurks around YouTube. Currently working on working out while waiting for Stranger Things. Enjoys bad puns.
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