**In this post, I discuss thoughts about the movie Searching. There are spoilers for the movie in the post.**
In this movie, which was shot and shown from the point of views of smartphones and computer screen cameras, we follow a father trying to find his 16-year-old daughter with the help of a police detective after she seemingly disappears without a trace. Having only his daughters laptop to go on, David must go through her computer as well as other social media platforms she used to try to find his daughter before it’s too late.
I’ve seen TV shows do an episode told from the perspective of a computer screen, and other movies have done this type of storytelling before, like Unfriended. It’s a tough story to pull off given the minimal camera positions that you can shot, the scope that is shown within each camera and movement onscreen to work with. This was also a precarious move when you realize that the cameras that are used might be stagnated since most of the time the perspective is from a webcam. This is a two-hour movie, so it had to hold our attention. This film did this well and put my concerns aside when I watched this movie. I’ll admit that I was caught in the thrill and suspense of the movie. Other videos were watched onscreen and seemed to cut away from the computer screen, like various news reports and videos that were shot by bystanders to seem to break from the computer screen at times.
The beginning of the movie sets a different tone and provided some exposition for the characters. We get to see the Kim family, their lives and activities. I can also guess that we are looking at the perspective of David and Margot’s computers during this as they get to go about and show their daily lives. We learn that Margot’s mother Pam gets cancer and passes away from it. I wonder if this story shown in the beginning would have been better told throughout the movie instead of at the beginning, giving hints to the audience about why David and Margot’s have a strained relationship. I thought it was fine where it was placed overall. Trying to break it up as I suggested is very tricky to do and could have made the story disjointed. Despite the story relying on heavy foreshadowing, being straight forward works best for this story and sets up for the next one to follow.
This film was done by director Aneesh Chaganity, which was a great film for what seems to be his first major directing debut. I also really liked both John Cho and Debra Messing’s performances. For what they had to work within a limited space was really challenging, but they showed great dynamic and body language. I kind of felt that John Cho didn’t look as tired and stress as a parent of a missing child should have been. He seemed that he was able to still function and was clean-shaven a lot and expected him to be a mess since his daughter was the only thing he had left in his family. Despite that, he was still believable to me as a father who would do anything to try to find his daughter. He did show signs of being in distress when he confronted and attacked a boy at a movie theatre, thinking he had something to do with the disappearance. Also, when he discovered that his brother might be having a physical relationship with his daughter. After finding multiple text message that he saw from his brother to his daughter, he tried to capture a confession on camera stating that he was then responsible for the disappearance because of the relationship. But both of those leads turned out to be a dead-end. It was convincing to me that David will go to any lengths to find Margot, even if it meant the cost of everyone who was trying to help him.
The strain there is on David and Margot was shown strongly with how they communicated. The only time that they spoke with each other is on a screen, but on a smartphone or computer. Despite living in the same house, the death of Pam effected them both. I viewed this as we can only connect or talk today with others through social media and not directly confront what is really bothering us. It was also showing that kids can get away from their parents and lock them out of their lives. David and Margot hardly spoke, and when he reported her missing, he had no idea about who or what his daughter did or who her friends were. Most of Margot’s accounts were blocked from David, and he had to backtrack to get into some of her accounts. I also like that the way David deleted what he was about to say, either changing his mind or reading a message that can up before he sent a message on what he wanted to say. It felt like someone an ordinary person does (or something that I do) and giving some more realism to the character.
The movie did have foreshadowing that gave away the real culprits in you were paying attention. These are some examples that I missed the first time around. Detective Vick told a story how she had covered for her son when he was going around telling the neighbors he was collecting $25 for a charity for his mom. There was $2,500 found in the seat of Margot’s car. Her son uses the name Fish_n_Chips, along with Margot’s school mascot is a catfish alluding to Robbie being fish_n_chips and catfish Margot, and his favorite Pokemon is Kecelon. I’ll get to that shortly. Even Detective Rosemary Vic, I read it might stand for 2 different name’s Rosemary as in Rosemary’s baby and Vic Mackey from The Shield. I’m not too sure about that though being intentional but I’m still going to count that.
I do appreciate that they were able to put Pokemon into the movie and worked deeper meaning into the characters of the film. There was a point where Fish_N_Chips asked Margot what favorite Pokemon was and she replied Uxie. That is a rare Pokemon for the film to reference instead of saying something like Pikachu, a common Pokemon most people know about. For anyone who is wondering about Uxie, in Pokemon lure can wipe out the memory of anyone who sees Uxie’s eyes as its eyes are always shut. An excellent reference for the daughter that wants to forget the pain of her mother’s death. Fish_n_Chips favorite Pokemon was Kecelon which is a Pokemon that can camouflage. This was shown briefly and thought fish_n_Chips said Keldeo, a legendary Pokemon from Generation V for the game series. But significant because Fish_n_Chips revealed himself actually to be Robert. Detective Vic’s son who is responsible for Margot’s disappearance and possible murder. He was using the story that he was a waitress in Pittsburgh who was working to pay for her mother’s cancer treatments. Causing false sympathy to Margot, whom he likes. Going back to him lying like he did when he went to the neighbor’s house to collect money for a charity that didn’t exist.
If I have to nitpick about this movie, it’s the leading characters name. I don’t have anything against the name of the main character David Kim. But the name just sounds so generic to me. Also, the movie uses a lot of 555 numbers. I know that they can’t put in a specific number since there could be a chance that some who watched the movie might get curious and dial the number, but I’m sure it’s well-known that no numbers anywhere contain 555 when you call someone and make the film’s world feel less authentic.
The end of the movie was good, but I’m still trying to process if I liked the end of the movie or wished that it had a darker ending. This movie was compared to a Hitchcock style of a thriller, and I can see this, but I felt it had the Hollywood ending as well. Margot somehow survived for 5 days in a ravine. She has thought to be dead, had it not been for rain that occurred in the middle of her disappearance. For me, if someone claims this to be a Hitchcock style of the film, then I think that Margot should have died in the ravine. Imagine if the original ending of Psycho would have had Marion Crane somehow live in the end. After being stabbed and toss into her trunk and drowned in a swamp. They pull her car up from the swamp, open the trunk, and find her still barely alive. It would have ruined the movie, at least for me. But Searching always seemed to have consequences as it looked like his daughter might have been paralyzed. As shown in a photo at the end and Detective Vick went to jail for covering up the attempted murder.
What did you think about the movie? Was there anything that I may have missed? Let me know in the comments and thank you for reading.