This year at the Fantasia International Film Festival, there have been three films that utilize the “screen life” technique such as Unfriended: Dark Web, Profile, and Searching, the latter being the best one out of these titles. Written and directed by Aneesh Chaganty, Searching is a brilliant and unique thriller about a man named David Kim (John Cho) who notices his daughter Margot (Michelle La) is missing and tries to track her down through her computer. He also finds out a lot of suspicious things about her while checking out her social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and there in a nutshell is the premise of Searching.
First of all, John Cho is absolutely great in the lead role of David. He carries the film from start to finish, and you completely understand where he’s coming from. He plays a protective father who loves his daughter very much, and you feel that. The moment you also notice Margot is missing, it’s a really emotional moment. This is arguably the best performance John Cho has ever shown in his acting career. Debra Messing, who plays the detective Rosemary Vick, is also one of the highlights of the movie. Whenever she and David argue on screen, it’s fascinating to see because they both have different ways to deal with this devastating situation.
What’s also really impressive is that from beginning to end, every scene serves its purpose. They all add something to the story, which makes each element feel relevant. The beginning perfectly sets up the dramatic tension, and it never loses that as the film goes on. Unlike some movies that have unnecessary scenes at times, Searching is well-paced and properly uses its runtime to introduce to the audience the lives of these characters. You want David to succeed in finding his daughter, and that’s something Aneesh Chaganty shows really well in his script.
As mentioned in the beginning of the review, Searching is filmed with the help of the “screen life” technique, which is a style of filmmaking Timur Bekmambetov has been interested in. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a type of film that mainly takes place on a computer screen from start to finish. It does sound like a gimmick, but Aneesh Chaganty does a great job showcasing it to its fullest without ever making it feel annoying. Some people undeniably might find this aspect distracting and frustrating, while others will be amazed by it.
If there’s one word to describe Searching, it would be marvellous.’ Even if it’s a simple premise, the filmmaker elevates it. There’s just something about the way Aneesh Chaganty is able to craft an effective story and properly showcase the “screen life” technique. If you’re in the mood for an intriguing and emotional thriller, this is certainly the movie for you. With a great script, innovative cinematography, and fantastic performances, Searching is definitely one of the most unique and effective films out there. It’s quite an accomplishment.