Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Searching: Film Review

Searching: Film Review

Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La
Director: Aneesh Chaganty

Searching taps into the digital world we live in and the price we pay for living online.

A solid and empathetic Cho stars as David Kim, whose life is changed when his daughter goes missing. As he tries desperately to track her down, with the help of a detective (Will and Grace star Debra Messing). he discovers he knows little to nothing about who his daughter really is...

Searching has a gimmick - it's a smart digital film thriller played out with everything unfolding via a computer screen. Admittedly, the contrivances come piled high in the back third of the film, threatening to topple the house of cards that's piled high, but there's a lot to digest beforehand.

Searching: NZIFF Review

Chaganty opens with a clever digital montage of the family, a reminder of how much we catalogue online these days, and how computers are so much about our memories as well as the RAM within. In many ways, it's a digitised version of the opening of Up, but for the Facebook generation.

If the gimmick is smartly executed by digital native Chaganty, it's also humanised by Cho's performance. Anchored with a turn that's both empathetic and gripping, Cho's desperation feels real as he plays off a screen and Face time conversations. The anguish etched on his face is never over-played, and he holds the story strongly.

Chaganty spins the thread as far as he can, but the back stages of the film feel like they have piled up the coincidences a little too highly, and while the smarter technical edges have reminiscences of Kristen Stewart's Personal Shopper, Searching always constantly feels gripping when it needs to.

An outlandish twist seals the deal for Searching, but that aside, the film's desire to provide an emotional rollercoaster for the large part works - it may not be perfect, but it's a thrilling tale of the lengths parents will go to and the cautionary fact we're all slowly becoming disconnected in a digital world. 

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