Sundance 2018 Review: Searching is an Innovative and Intense Roller Coaster Ride
Searching follows David Kim (John Cho), a desperate father looking for answers after discovering that his teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La) has gone missing. Told entirely through various forms of technology, David begins searching through the family computer and social media hoping to uncover clues that will help lead him to his daughter’s whereabouts. After making a few calls that end up leading nowhere, David calls the authorities to open a missing person report and assigns Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) to his case.
Let me be one of the first people to say that Searching is one hell of a roller coaster ride. The film, which marks the feature-length directorial debut of Aneesh Chaganty, is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece. Searching is the first film ever told entirely through technology and computer screens. This, in itself, is a remarkable achievement and one of which everyone who was part of the production should feel incredibly proud of.
I honestly can’t remember the last time that I saw a film as innovative and inventive as Searching. From the very first scene, I was hooked. The film opens with the dial-up connection sound as we see David begin to set up his first family computer. For the next 100 minutes, I was on edge as David makes various phone calls, watches videos on YouCast, and just scours the net looking for clues that will help him track down his missing daughter.
Sev Ohanian and Annesh Chaganty have written a film that has redefined a tired genre. This is a missing person story, unlike anything that you have seen before. There are a lot of twists and turns with plenty of surprises that will have audiences on the edge of their seats guessing what will happen next. This is a tough film to review regarding the plot because there are a lot of things that occur that if revealed would ruin the tension that the story has created. All I will say is that nothing is as it seems and that there is a lot to take in.
I have said this before, and I will say it again, John Cho is a severely underrated actor and one that is terrific in every role that he has tackled. From the hilarious and short-lived television series Selfie to playing Sulu in the Star Trek franchise, Cho has shown so much range as an actor. In Searching, the entire film rests on his shoulders. It is centered on his character David and his reaction as he discovers new information about his daughter’s case. Cho’s performance is so powerful because it highlights a wide range of emotion including everything from guilt to blind rage. As a viewer, you are entirely invested in David’s journey, and that is because of Cho’s commitment to the role.
Debra Messing, who is best known for her role as Grace Adler on Will & Grace, is simply fantastic as Detective Rosemary Vick. Over the years, Messing has starred in various films and television shows but her role as Detective Vick is her finest performance yet. Detective Vick is a woman who isn’t afraid to take charge of the situation and Messing completely embraces it. You can’t look away whenever she is on screen as her performance demands attention and respect. She really nails it with this performance.
The film’s editing team should automatically win the Academy Award for Best Editing next year. I honestly can’t even begin to comprehend how Nick Johnson, Will Derrick, and Aneesh Chaganty managed to edit this film together. They must have spent months in the editing room, but the result is pure perfection. I don’t think the majority of people realize how complicated and time consuming the editing process is and when you make a film that is told entirely through computer screens that only adds another layer. I applaud Johnson, Derrick, and Chaganty for pulling this off with such ease.
Searching is an innovative and intense cinematic masterpiece. It has not only redefined the mystery genre but storytelling as a whole. Searching is a unique and remarkable little film that was made with a lot of passion. I can only hope that this film gets picked up by a USA distributor that will give this film the release that it so rightly deserves. Searching is one of the best films to come out of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and will undoubtedly be hailed as one of the best films of the year. Bravo to everyone involved!
Scott ‘Movie Man’ Menzel’s rating for Search is a 9 out of 10.