Movie Review: SEARCHING

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Initially titled “Search,” this seemingly unobtrusive movie received The Audience Award: NEXT and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize for outstanding feature film about science or technology at the Sundance Film Festival last year (2018), before it was bought for $5 Million by Sony and retitled, “Searching.” It went on to be a financial and critical success worldwide.

And well it should be. The story of a determined father searching for his missing daughter may be clich√©, but this film brought it to a whole new level. And I’m not talking about gun-crazy, across-the-world, Liam Neeson-kind of movie. “Searching” is a compelling, ingenious take on the good and bad sides of the power of technology in our modern times. And not just technology. This movie was an eye-opener on other things, things we may have intentionally, or unintentionally, turned a blind eye to.

David Kim becomes desperate when his 16-year-old daughter Margot disappears and an immediate police investigation leads nowhere. He soon decides to search the one place that no one else has — Margot’s laptop. Hoping to trace her digital footprints, David contacts her friends and looks at photos and videos for any possible clues to her whereabouts.

The story was largely told using screens of, you name it, iPhone, SmartPhone, MacBook, FaceTime, YouTube, Gmail, and many social media platforms. Modern technology at its best. But it was done expertly and beautifully so as to render it intriguing and suspenseful instead of boring and monotonous.

John Cho who played David Kim was perfect for the role. His acting was excellent. Intense but artistically restrained. He is a father emotionally laden by his daughter’s disappearance—fear, guilt, confusion, anger, shame intermingled, grappled inside him. But he is also a father with a good head on his shoulders, and he used it to full advantage. He remained focused, utilising every technological means he knew, and never once did he let his emotions rule over his mind. He was unwavering and resolute to the very end.

{ I felt hope when Searching is hailed as the first mainstream Hollywood thriller headlined by an Asian-American actor. Maybe another successful mainstream Hollywood movie with a lead Filipino actor will not be long in the making? }

This movie is like a compass: there’s always a North and a South, an East and a West… of many things. Technology can be good. It can make life easier; communication faster; chores simpler. It can help find missing persons; capture an offender; solve a crime. But it can also be bad, when it is used to estrange oneself from family and loved ones; keep secrets; tarnish one’s reputation; mislead people. A parent’s love can be good. It can fuel an unrelenting determination to find a missing child, whatever it may take; to look past her imperfections made known only now; to hold on to the hope that she is still alive and therefore they have a chance to rebuild and rebond their connection. But it can also be bad, when it pushes one to lie, use police resources wrongly, and even kill, to cover up a child’s misdeed, however unpremeditated it may have been. Having friends can be good. But it can also be bad when they’re not really friends at all, just people who’d use you for a moment of online glory or fame. Being solitary can be good. And it can also be bad, leading to bouts of depression and shutting out of people who truly love us. Being an expert in technology can be good. But it can be bad, either, when one uses it to invade others’ privacy without consent and without restraint. And the list goes on.

Emotional yet technical. Suspenseful yet hopeful.

There are many things in this movie than meet the eye, all relevant and thought-provoking. Complete with twists and turns that will make your heart palpitate, this film is worth the awards it received, and much, much more. Highly recommended! ?

You can buy or rent this movie here.

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