Searching, rated PG-13
Searching is a suspenseful, innovative, well-written and acted thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a teenage daughter and her father’s efforts to find her. It is one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
Much of the film takes place on sites accessed on an electronic device. We watch along as the lead character accesses the sites desperately looking for information that will allow him to find his daughter. The film is directed by Aneesh Chaganty and written by Chaganty and Sev Ohanian.
The film begins by showing us that the tight-knit Kim family, consisting of father David, played by John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle), wife Pamela, played by (Furious 7, Twin Peaks), and daughter Margot, played by Michelle La in her first major role.
Soon however, Pamela is diagnosed with cancer, and after an initial remission, the cancer returns and Pamela dies. Father and daughter must carry on, and though it looks like they have a good trusting relationship, David will soon find out that he doesn’t know his daughter very well at all.
Sixteen-year-old Margot tells her father that she will be at an all-night study group to prepare for an upcoming exam. Although he thinks that’s odd, he trusts her. When he gets up in the morning, he notices that he has missed phone and FaceTime calls from Margot. When he tries to get ahold of her he gets no response.
As time goes on he begins to get increasingly worried until he finally reports Margot as a missing person to the police. He is contacted by Detective Rosemary Vick, played by eight-time Golden Globe nominee Debra Messing (Will & Grace, The Starter Wife). Vick is compassionate and is also a parent, and is determined to help David find Margot. She encourages him to reach out to Margot’s friends to get clues as to where Margot might be.
David realizes that he really doesn’t know any of Margot’s friends. He then begins accessing her text messages and social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. As he does, David (and the audience) are pulled into aspects of Margot’s life that her father was completely unaware of. At one point, he reads questionable text messages between his brother Peter, played by Joseph Lee and Margot. As each day goes by, the probability of finding Margot alive decreases as we see the local San Jose, California media cover the developing story.
Searching has a number of good twists and turns in the plot. John Cho is excellent as the increasingly desperate father searching for his missing daughter. Debra Messing delivers a strong performance as the compassionate detective firmly committed to finding Margot.
Content concerns include some adult language, including the abuse of God’s name, some violence, and sexual references.
Themes include family, fear, deception, father-daughter relationships and perseverance.
Searching is an excellent movie that is creatively filmed like no other film you’ve ever seen. It is original, never predictable, tense throughout, well-written and acted.