Searching (2018)

searching poster 2018 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Acting is strong and raises the movie from the visuals

Some might not want to watch computer screens, some of the mystery is a little too predictable

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Searching

Studio:  Bazelevs Company

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  January 21, 2018 (Sundance Film Festival)/August 24, 2018 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

searching john cho sara sohn

Do you really think you know people?

After the death of his wife Pamela (Sara Sohn), David Kim (John Cho) is trying to raise his daughter Margot (Michelle La) alone.  When Margot disappears after a study group, David finds himself thrust into Margot’s life and searching for clues in his daughter’s world that he never really knew.  Teamed with Detective Rosemary Vick (Deborah Messing), David is trying to comb through Margot’s social media and online interactions to find out where she went and who might know the truth to what happened.

Written and directed by Aneesh Chaganty (with addition scripting by Sev Ohanian), Searching is an experimental mystery suspense thriller.  The film initially premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was released to critical acclaim.

searching john cho deborah messing

She is very, very calming…

There have always been movies that test technology and how we use it.  Shows like Black Mirror experiment with this and movies like Unfriended take it even further.  Unfriended felt like a gimmick…a movie trying to be the first “online” movie.  Searching takes Unfriended a step farther and does it with style and intelligence.  Due to the intricacies of the plot, a ******spoiler alert****** is in effect for the rest of the review.

I’ll admit that Searching isn’t the most airtight script.  Multiple times during the movie, I thought “that doesn’t make sense” which later lead to a revelation by John Cho’s character.  I don’t like mysteries where the viewer is ahead of the character by a lot…a nice mystery gives the viewer the thrill of figuring it out first, but only seconds before the lead character.  In Searching, things like fish_n_chips not having a profile pic then gaining a profile pic, the uncle’s drug issues, and the slow to question picture of a remote lake are more frustrating than rewarding.  It takes a bit away from the script in that police would latch on to some of the stuff…but the script writes around that in a way by having the police be in on the conspiracy.

searching john cho sarah sohn youcast

Got to love some fish_n_chips

John Cho is great as the father.  His acting combines great with visuals (aka hesitations on typing etc.) to present a father afraid to shatter his child while at the same time afraid to talk about the things hurting him.  Deborah Messing is almost unrecognizable as the lead detective assigned to the case though her acting did lead me to question the validity of her character’s efforts at points…she was just too helpful (which is odd considering she is an officer who is part of an investigation).

The movie is built around online searching, typing, videos, etc.  Cho’s character and his family are really attached to their electronics…I can’t say that I am so it is a bit hard to conceive having everything related to your life (including conversations etc.) online.  Unfriended was a cold look at this, but this movie has more heart with the camera zooming in on portions of the screen and videos (though being in news I have to say I didn’t believe the news coverage).

searching john cho social media

Bring on the social media and commentary

Searching was a strong movie that got stronger as it went along.  While I enjoyed the initial parts of the search, I preferred when the search went viral.  I like the context of social media, judgment, and the reaction from outsiders trying to insert themselves into the search since we all see that all the time regardless if you are involved in news.  The ending was pretty neatly wrapped up (which isn’t always a crime), and in Searching, you’ll find a winner.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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