Searching struck me as one of those films that relies on a gimmick for its success, and as a film that seemed to be your fairly average cut and paste “daughter goes missing dad crosses lines to find her” type film. Like Taken but with less vaguely European cities and less tired Liam Neeson scaling a chain link fence in 20 cuts (seriously look it up it’s painful to witness).
As I watched Searching however I realised it was actually way better than first I would have thought.
The gimmick, as it were, is that the narrative is presented via computer screens and Skype calls and a whole slew of other net based methods. This non-traditional approach to the filmmaking works rather well. As we are slowly drip fed information about the plot, the presentation allows for exposition and other information both important and unimportant to be conveyed in an interesting and engaging way. For example, instead of wasting time on a montage to show the progression of the mother’s cancer we instead are shown a screen depicting a calendar with the mother’s return being moved twice and eventually deleted.
This is one example of one of Searching‘s biggest strengths. Its ability to tell a story through non-linear means and without words. From this little scrap of information we can derive huge chunks of backstory that we don’t necessarily need to see which is an excellent tool in terms of world building. The ultimate twist of the film is great as well, and was something I genuinely did not see coming. The acting all round is good, with John Cho’s protagonist being superbly played, and the balance of emotions and the mental weight his character endures can really be seen throughout the whole film.
One of the things I felt that could have been improved is that the film gives us several clues as to what may have happened to Margot, but when the ultimate twist comes these clues largely amount to nothing, and is the film’s biggest flaws. The police in this film also seem fairly incompetent, with the non-qualified pedestrian father doing more in the investigation than the police did.
VERDICT: Overall, I really enjoyed Searching and I would highly recommend you see it. I would give this film an 8.5/10.