Critic Consensus: Searching's timely premise and original execution are further bolstered by well-rounded characters brought to life by a talented cast.
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Critic Reviews for Searching
Searching is a taut, effectively paced mystery-thriller with a powerful emotional component.
Cho, Messing, and La are excellent actors who are offered almost nothing to work with.
The suspense is satisfactory; the pace is well-sustained. What really clicks, though, is the message: We leave digital bread crumbs everywhere we go, and if our secrets are not safe, neither are we.
That a thriller would come along utilizing these ideas was inevitable. What's unexpected is that it would be done so well.
A well-crafted mystery with quite a few unexpected twists and turns.
Audience Reviews for Searching
Searching is a clever, crafty found footage mystery told from the point of view of a computer screen. Unlike many found footage entries, writer/director Aneesh Chaganty has put considerable thought into the mechanics of his storytelling gimmick. The opening sequence even reminded me of Up as far as how deft it was with the economy of storytelling while providing an affecting emotional blow. In the opening, we watch a little girl grow up as computer technology and websites also advance documenting her life, culminating in her mother getting cancer and passing away, communicated via a "Mom's Coming Home" date removed from a calendar. It was so well done I actually felt like I just might summon some tears for the passing of this woman. Right away I realized I was in for something special. Flash forward and the teen daughter goes missing and her stressed-out father (John Cho) dives into the investigation firsthand by looking through her online history and realizing how little he may have known his not-so-little girl. The movie illustrates nicely how easy it is to hide your real self online and how easy it is for others to find you and your digital impressions. Every time Cho is visiting a website, whether it's Venmo or Instagram or Facebook or a webcam, there's a solid reason for it and the movie has a satisfying step-by-step progression. The mystery has plenty of unexpected twists and turns and it's anchored by a harried and distraught Cho (Star Trek Beyond), who does not look like he's in his mid 40s at all (Kal Penn has also aged well, which makes me only want a cross-generational Harold and Kumar sequel more). The only knock on Searching is that there really isn't a pressing need to see it on the big screen. After all, you're watching a computer screen and typing for much of the movie. It will play just as well, if not better, on your home television or whatever smaller screen is at your discretion. Nate's Grade: B+
Every parent's worst nightmare plays out in this film directed by Aneesh Chaganty. A widower (John Cho) finds that his teenage daughter (Michelle La) has disappeared, and begins frantically going through her social media and online presence in the attempt to find clues about what may have happened to her. Helping him is a detective (Debra Messing), and the more he discovers, the more he finds that he doesn't really know his daughter at all, which is further unsettling. The film thus has several gut-wrenching components of loss - losing the wife/mother (Sara Sohn) to cancer, having a child disappear, and gradually discovering the image you have of a loved one is woefully incomplete - for isn't disillusionment another form of loss? Creative in its story-telling, which is entirely from the perspective of interfacing to various devices and applications in the modern age, the film also serves as a highly realistic 'documentary' for the way we connect to the world for so much of our lives. It's hard to believe now, but in a few decades the technology shown will likely be viewed as quaint, and in time may fascinate watchers of 'old' movies as much as little elements in films from the 1930's tickle us. I was worried this might be too gimmicky or impede the film in some way, but it doesn't at all. At the same time, while the computer interfaces feel highly realistic, there were elements in the story that weren't, for example, its timeline, and some of the actions of the characters, but I don't want to spoil it. There is real tension as the film plays out, because of the emotional stakes involved, and because we really don't know what's going to happen. There are just enough possible suspects and aspects of the evidence that we get led down a few different paths in our mind, perhaps similar to the roller coaster ride the father is on. I'm not sure if John Cho's performance has enough angst and grief in it, but he's reasonably strong, as is the rest of the cast, and in a very interesting way, the film explores the depths of parental devotion. Solid film.
This is one of the best movies I have seen in a while. The directing is great, John Cho puts on the best performance of his career, but the story steals the show. Packed with suspense, surprises, heart and constant intrigue throughout, the script sets this movie apart from the rest. It's so engrossing that you forget the entire film is presented on phone and laptop screens, a unique feature that Chaganty pulls of successfully.
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