Searching is a film that adapted the growing practice of portraying an entire movie from the perspective of a computer screen. If you are immediately thinking, “oh shit, we have another Unfriended on our hands,” I’m here to assure you, that is not the case at all. For a missing child mystery-thriller, Searching did their due diligence to the seemingly over-saturated genre. I’m going to break down why this movie was surprisingly great in my Searching movie review.
Going into this movie, I had no idea the entire thing would be shot from the perspective of a computer screen. As I began to realize this was probably going to be the case for the entire movie, I became a little nervous. I knew Searching had received good reviews and I began to wonder if it was only due to their “creative” use of filming through a computer. I immediately began to question if I would actually enjoy Searching because I hate gimmicky movies for the sake of being different.
Unlike the lazily-developed “horror” movie, Unfriended, Searching doesn’t use this camera style as a crutch. The moments you are aware that the movie is shot entirely from a computer screen it somehow makes the scenes more impactful and real. Yet, for a majority of the movie, you nearly forget all together and just enjoy the story of a young father using the internet to help track down his missing teenage daughter. Although that description sounds so overly used already, Searching makes the scenario so real and believable that I would actually compare it to my favorite film of this genre, Prisoners.
Creator, Aneesh Chaganty, clearly knew what he was doing in this big-screen directorial debut. Movies revolving around computers unfortunately seem to lack actually computer knowledge a majority of the time. This was not the case for Searching, which made it so much more believable and enjoyable. The entire cast also did an outstanding job. John Cho proved his impressive acting capabilities as well as Debra Messing matching that with her intensity. Even young Michelle La did a great job of playing the depressed teenager, regardless of how little we saw her acting on screen.
Although one potential flaw of Searching could be argued that there was a good amount of insignificant characters which is usually seen as an unnecessary distraction from the main story. In Searching however, I would argue these minor characters were actually used to portray real characters most of us encounter in our social media experiences nearly every day. It also showed the actual importance of these people in your life once you are disconnected from social media and in the real world and their self-interest, regardless of what is happening to a “friend.” Now a days, everyone has an opinion that is publicized equally regardless of exposure or knowledge to the actual event. In my opinion, these minor characters perfectly represent that.
Per usual, the Chairgatin’ movie review scoring system consist of American flag recliners, which are good for obvious reasons, and fedoras which are bad, also for obvious reasons. 5 recliners represent the best and 5 fedoras represent the worst. I’m awarding Searching four recliners; a believable and well-paced suspense movie that successfully utilizes a film style I previously suspected to be cancer and instead made me fully enjoy it.
For me, Searching was a roller coaster. I went from high-hopes at the beginning based on reviews to doubtful when I realized it was filmed entirely on a computer screen to pleasantly surprised when I walked out really enjoying it. Searching managed to take a film technique that has proven to be terrible time and time again and used it in an artistic and enjoyable way. It also does the “my teenage daughter is missing” genre justice by keeping the audience guessing about different character’s motives. Forget Crazy Rich Asians, this is an Asian casted movie that deserves all of its praise and your business.