The gimmick with this film is that the entire story is told through a computer screen. Facebook pages, you tube videos, emails and messages, old videos stored on hard drives, etc. Lots of video chatting. (The movies UNFRIENDED and UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB used the same device.) It's a low-budget let surprisingly effective and immediate story-telling device. We share with the father a sense of discovery. We learn as he learns. He doesn't know things we don't know...nor do we know what HE doesn't. It's fun, but on occasion, the credibility of this is stretched pretty thin...and when dad has to step out of his house, we still keep up with him because he is the subject of news reports that we get to watch. So yes, the device is clever but often strained.
What really works well in the film is the convincing work by star John Cho. He's come a long way from his HAROLD AND KUMAR days, and gives a well-rounded portrait of a smart man, crushed by grief and now confounded by how little he really knows his daughter. (He finds out, for example, that she has stopped going to her once beloved music lessons...but has kept the money and said nothing to her dad.) His convincing work makes us look past the confining story-telling device, and pulls us into the emotion of the story. He makes SEARCHING more than just a clever story...it has a real emotional impact.
There's a real mystery here, and it takes a couple of pretty cool turns. I found myself surprised a couple of times, EVEN as I then berated myself for not having "seen it coming." But hindsight is always 20/20...I liked being surprised.
Somehow, this movie didn't garner a huge audience in the theaters, even though it is vastly superior to others of its ilk. It truly has some pulse-pounding moments, a reasonably intelligent script and a very solid central performance. I highly recommend you seek it out and enjoy the ride.
- Finesse Movie Reviews
Chaganty's nail-biting thriller is a real gem on delivering the crisp and the current social media satire that it whips you with. Considering it is his first major motion picture, Chaganty is a force to be reckoned with. His obvious gravels that are hard to chew, in its initial stages, is so flamboyant in the latter ones, that you are happy to let them go by, as you are practically giddy up for more of the sweat drop precision that amps up the charge. It is very well and calculatively constructed structure that despite of having a newer territory to explore, still follows one's familiar textbook formula; Chaganty went safe on that section. To create an entire picture that is fixated on a screen and tell a story through it, as much as that idea is appealing, it also is immensely difficult to pull off, since even though the technology has come far enough to give you quite a range to explore in it, Chaganty does feel short handed at times, and finds himself straining a bit on screen which is something that should not have been visible to the viewers but unfortunately it actually is.
The subjective procedure of the investigation might be rudimentary but is immensely entertaining and thoroughly enthralling to encounter. The real romance of Chaganty's is how he weaves out a character out of tiny notions and objects, to an extent that you start caring for that object or a piece of message that it is carrying. The antics installed in this crime drama is something to be learned from, not only are they a huge supportive base of the plotline but also essentially the heat of the soul.
The narration is not only gripping and adaptive but layered and thought provoking, no matter how itchy the short stories might feel like, they are crucial to the plot points. Obviously, there isn't much range offered to the actors to factor in, still Cho is delivering all he can from his guts; he makes you care for him. The supporting cast is a similar victim of the concept as Cho is, there is very little and in bits and pieces for them to do in so much time. The crust of the feature that it surfs through which is also its distraction, is thoroughly gripping and the makers have equally invested their time and sweat into it to be as convincing as possible.
So these little notions or piece of informations keep giving us hope whilst the real trick is happening somewhere else entirely. The makers also plays with you subconsciously where they impute various ideas and innuendos on the screen for us to look at it as clues while actually all it does is throw us back from the real game. It is a very smart tale retold with a fresher perspective than we usually get, it keeps you tangled in its search. Searching may not be path breaking on terms of storytelling but as far as technology and cinema is concerned they are walking in parallel in here.