Searching (2018) Poster

(III) (2018)

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Excellent storytelling!
musiqliblessed2 September 2018
I was just utterly entertained and delighted by this film. Because it was just SO well done.

It's innovative cinematography was not presented at the sacrifice of a well-crafted and compelling story. Unlike the Blair Witch Project, these filmmakers put as much time and care into their story as they did with this method of filming. They could have honestly filmed this in the traditional way and it would have still been a worthwhile movie outing. This was indeed a solid work of art.

Even with so many moments absent of dialogue or even human characters to watch, the film was always forward moving. The suspense and mystery continuously builds until the very last moments.

There were so many twists and turns, they made it impossible to truly predict what was going on. At one point we predicted one thing that did unfold but we were almost immediately surprised by another new turn.

There was a story, there was substance, there was intrigue, there was heart. And there wasn't a thing presented in the film that did not contribute to the story.

They made my heart break and my heart leap. Made me hold my breath and exclaim with surprise. Made me smile...even made me reminisce a little (due to my particular age).

John Cho delivers yet another excellent performance. It was a refreshing role to see him play. He just broke my heart the whole film. I just wanted to reach out and hug him!

It was also extremely refreshing to see Debra Messing in this type of role. Nothing I'd EVER seen her do and she was just great.

Great cast, in general, tho very small, given the story was told so exclusively from the father's perspective.

I really could just go on and on about this movie that I had oddly never heard of...very undoubtedly a hidden gem in the theatres right now.

I 100% recommend taking a trip to the theatre for this one.
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Finally a decent tech movie
Reviewer6464619 August 2018
This film got it right in the technology department. All real websites, technology and actual examples of how you can search the internet to find information. They had to get this right and as an avid tech enthusiastic i was pleased that they did.

The storyline was well written, had twists and turns that i did not expect. Decent movie!
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Extremely well-done!
littlemankazoo27 August 2018
For all the people who ever tried (And failed) to make a compelling thriller about the internet, from "Unfriended" to "Megan Is Missing", I have news for you:

Someone finally did it.

"Searching" is quite possibly the first film I've seen that truly treats the internet as the entity it is without any silly exaggerations, fake websites, ignorance or judgement. Instead, this film treats it as a platform to tell a compelling mystery story with an excellent performance by John Cho and a quite honestly revolutionary sense of direction at its center.

"Searching" concerns itself primarily with the character of David Kim, played by John Cho (Of 'Harold & Kumar' fame), who's daughter goes missing suddenly and is only left with a trail of breadcrumbs that exist entirely on the internet. Whether it be social media, text logs or anything in-between, the film becomes a frantic search to find his missing daughter.

The film itself is an odd hybrid of the Found Footage genre and of an actual narrative film. What I mean by this is that we still see close ups, we still hear a musical score, and still see various camera tricks incorporated into the film, but our vantage point is limited only to a screen and what may appear on it. Because of this, the direction expertly resorts to showing many forms of multi-media to paint a story that a feature film could tell. From the film's wide-spanning opening (Which is oddly reminiscent of Pixar's "Up" in more ways than one) to every direction it goes beyond that, the film stays in its proverbial lane and uses its media and its story platform to tell a compelling story within its mean.

This execution, by first-time director Aneesh Chaganty, is done BRILLIANTLY. There is not a single moment where you do not buy what is occurring on-screen when it comes to the way these sites and media function (Aside from a few hiccups that I will get into later), and it truly shows an understanding of both the limits of this scope and of the media they used to tell this story. Crazy as it sounds, it is an incredible accomplishment seen here by Chaganty that the film remained comprehensible, well-directed, and ended up as the first film of its genre to ever incorporate social media properly.

Speaking of which, it is a delight that we do not get any fake websites in this film. What I mean by this is, there is no "sub-in" for Youtube or Facebook or anything of that like. Facebook is Facebook, Youtube is Youtube, Tumblr is Tumblr, etc etc. It is both a treat to those who look for authenticity in this concept that not only did the crew know what they were talking about, but also to see that they trusted audience to expect realism and no substitute. Fake social media sites in film is out, and incorporating the quite real social media sites around us is IN..and I couldn't be happier.

This could perhaps be enough for a downright experimental film to be considered serviceable, but what truly elevates this even further is John Cho's fantastic performance as a father at his wit's end fighting to find his daughter. Though we only get small bursts of the clear talent and commitment he has for this role, by the time the film was over even his own mouse cursor and movements depicted by his searching through the internet had its own injected 'character' to it.

Despite how well the film is executed, a few flaws do hold it back from being a masterpiece by a first-time director. The climax of the film and the conclusion we reach to the mystery itself is a bit fantastical and hard-to-buy for my tastes, though it hardly ruins the entire film structurally. In addition, Michelle La as the daughter character is not especially good in the scenes she is featured in, which was perhaps why the only scenes I never felt entirely invested were the ones where she was front-and-center. Considering this is her first feature film role, that's perhaps simply inexperience coming to the fore, but it still hurts the film when her scenes are sandwich between a fantastic performance by John Cho.

Along with these problems with story and performances, the minuscule details between the lines of the film's internet setting are a tad fuzzy. Namely things regarding the service YouChat and how it is presented, along with the tiniest nitpicks in presentation like the mouse cursor moving so buttery-smoothly it became hard to buy. In addition, my feelings toward the film having a background score are a tad mixed, though I grew to accept it as the film went on. Simply a matter of tastes.

All of that said, "Searching" is a quite masterfully done thriller with an execution that is truly a marvel to behold. Never has this genre of found footage been able to crack the concept of painting a thrilling film through the scope of a computer screen until now. With the internet seemingly 'cracked' by these writers and directors, however, this film ends up a first of its kind and quite the investing ride to take at the theatre.

I highly recommend you see this film and support something so indie and so unique. It's really unlike anything that's in theatres right now~
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Best Yet of the "Computer-Screen" Movies
Jared_Andrews10 September 2018
A story told entirely through a character's laptop screen - it's an increasingly popular gimmick that's now been done enough times that it can no longer be called fresh. But, thankfully, this is best execution of the style to date. Aneesh Chaganty dazzles in his directorial debut, displaying a mastery of the medium, crafting a compelling film narrative told entirely through someone's laptop activity.

The movie comes out hot with a mostly nonverbal tale of love and family that's shades of 'Up' and nearly as affecting. An emotionally warping scene like that to kick things off lets us know immediately that we're in good hands. The music choices give a strong signal of this as well. I firmly believe that music choices in the opening minutes of movies are as reliable an indicator of the movie's quality as you'll find.

This moving love story tells that us the family is close, or, at least they were before mom died. Now dad David (John Cho) is raising his daughter Margot (Michelle La) as well he can, but they seem a bit distant. When Margot mysteriously goes missing, he finds out just how little he knows about his daughter.

He and police detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) scramble to find out what happened to Margot - was she kidnapped, catfished, or did she runaway? The work they put in to unravel this mystery is frantic and exhausting. They track Margot's car on traffic cams, they contact all of her Facebook friends, and they dig for anything of use they can find on her laptop. The level of detail displayed in the investigation is so thorough that it's as much an education in snooping as it is entertainment (not that parents should follow these steps to snoop on their own kids!)

It's a constant thrill ride throughout, even as conventional storytelling techniques seep through the cracks at the end when the laptop screen gimmick proves too challenging. One answered question leads to five more unanswered, and a few false endings and twists will leave you breathless. In movies, there are twists and then there are TWISTS. "Searching" has TWISTS. Enjoy.
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Edge of Your Seat Thriller
yajaira213231 August 2018
It's the number of people sitting at the edge of their seat that makes the score a 10/10. It's like riding a rollercoaster whose incline never ceased. Your pulse is pounding and it's well worth the ending, which no one in my group figured out.

The father daughter relationship felt so genuine. The dad humor was on point, and when things got serious it felt real. It was like "Taken", but if it happened in real life. Google search the hell out of your daughter's life to find her.
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F crazy rich Asians, this is real Asian representation
zhangshikai21 September 2018
Thanks to all the hype of crazy rich Asians, this film got buried by all that other movie's hype. I believe this is what real representation is all about, when you have a role that doesn't need to be played by Asian but is played by Asian!

this movie have better direction better story, better cinematography and better actors than crazy rich Asians, but it doesn't have the hype generated by the stars, but this movie is what true film making is all about! keeping up with the times and the tech, bravo!
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Innovative and groundbreaking for being GOOD at what it does
soulsk8ter22528 June 2018
The word "gimmick" can be thrown around to describe a major element of a film that changes up the ordinary tropes we'd expect from a rather straightforward flick. There is 3D, timeline splicing, animation, found footage, you name it. Some films almost even fall into these places as a genre. When they do, you get the inkling that the people responsible for thinking up the movie likely have these elements in mind at the forefront with the story as an afterthought. Only when that occurs do I call those elements gimmicky. And it's not that a gimmick is a bad thing, but if that is what you rely on to make your story compelling, it will often become a crutch for poor storytelling or one-and-done enjoyment. Sometimes it is done right, in which case the gimmick works... but most of the time it has that negative connotation for good reason.

However, there is another breed of films where you can get that feeling that a story was thought up, and ultimately it was decided that the best way to tell that story was by use of something like 3D, etc. When that happens, it is no longer a gimmick nor does it fall into that genre, so to speak. It is just the best way to tell that story, even though the story could work very well without it. I am no longer attracted to the film because of the device being used, but rather I can almost ignore that it's happening because I am so engraved in the story being told.

Within the found footage narrative realm has come screencasting, where we see the world through somebody's computer or phone screen. The first and only film of this variety I have seen was Unfriended, which takes place on one user's laptop screen as she does a group webcam chat. This played off as a gimmick because it was the only way to tell the story. Searching is now the second screencasting film I have seen. It has a bit of a hybrid feel though because there are jumps to other footage needed to tell the story (perhaps from the news or something) and there is also a score that the characters otherwise wouldn't hear.

Gimmick is also the last term I would use to describe what it does. Of course, this is plainly because the story is what drives the film and could be done without this style, but also because this style is doing more than tell a story: it is telling of our generation's attachments to/reliance on technology, the internet and most of all social media. The right audience will connect with this very well because they will feel very comfortable and familiar. This is where the film gets to breathe and even provide what one could call comedic relief (in just how real it all is to our technological experiences).

Director and co-writer Aneesh Chaganty came up with something extraordinary, and very smartly crafted this film into something where the main character's (played by John Cho) computer and phone are not devices (no pun intended), but they are now characters. There is an inaudible dialogue between him and screen, and the audience fills the gaps of what each of them are saying to each other. I say the story could be told without the screencasting in play, but the audience would need another way of being exposed information through needless dialogue, either to oneself or other characters. That, or we would still be looking at computer screens for a very long time, or time would have to be served filling scenes in other ways, so restructuring the screenplay would be required (which is possible, but I think Chaganty found the best way to tell his story).

I am still on a high with this film, to the point where I temporarily feel comfortable saying this is my favorite film of the year so far. The trailer that I just watched on this film after the fact would lend you to believe that it is a suspense/thriller, and even though it is suspenseful and thrilling I would not identify it as that. I would call it more of a drama/mystery. I think the first ten minutes of the film easily define what the entirety of the film will play out to be with regards to what emotions it will tap into you, and the opener of this film is one of my favorites in a long time. Thinking back on it, it's probably what really seals what I really think about Searching as a whole, and puts your mind at ease for the screencasting style that Chaganty tells the story with.

This film is about a father whose high school daughter turns up missing, and he cooperates with the police in doing his own personal detective work through means of his electronic devices to help aid their investigation. Thinking back at some of the missing persons films I have seen in my days (Gone Girl, Prisoners, Taken, Man on Fire, Gone Baby Gone, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Flightplan, Ransom), these stories have ranged from: straightforward to conspiracy-laden, kidnappings to runaways, found alive to found deceased to never found at all... and Searching gives you reason to believe that any of these possibilities could be true, all within staying very real. I think that's what makes this movie work most, that by the end of the day you convince yourself that you felt you saw something extremely grounded and strangely relatable. I mentioned the technology/internet/social media aspects, but the characters also relate well, and because it takes place in the Bay Area it also gives more bonus points for someone like me because I have an extra connection with the locations that are mentioned or utilized. It's best that you try and not decide for yourself what kind of film or outcome you hope to see going into it, and instead commend the shrewd genius in weaving the pieces together in a very levelheaded manner.

Absolutely none of this works without the sturdy acting by John Cho. You clearly see the image of a wrecked and broken father attempting to find his daughter. He has a compelling way of making us feel his his hurt and desperation. Chaganty once again used the screencasting element well here in having his character's on-screen actions say so much as well, from his mouse gestures to the things he starts to type but deletes before sending to other people, etc. The audience will not have to work too hard with these facets because of competent directing and brilliant acting.

What I suggest you do work really hard at while watching, however, is what I would call the Easter eggs this film has. When a screen pops up with a bunch of e-mails, news articles, or chat conversations, you want to pick up everything that you can because you won't be able to pause and rewind in theater. But furthermore and most importantly, every revelation of this film can be grasped if you work and look hard enough at everything that Cho's character works and looks at. This is a good thing, and what makes it even better is this film is never predictable (mostly because you know as much as the protag does, because you are literally seeing the film through his eyes). You get to stay on the edge of your seat through this process, even if nothing is really going on, because you feel like you get to take everything in at the same time that he does. There is a lot to process here, and again it is all in such a very real way.

This one is such a good time at the theater, and I think the only people who will be disappointed in this flick is if they: find the screencasting to be too much of a gimmick for their taste, feel misled by the trailer's overly suspenseful tone, or they already have one or two predetermined outcomes in mind that they want to happen and it doesn't suit their liking. Comparatively, my biggest gripes in this film stem from things like characters typing messages lightning-fast and perfectly (and people responding faster than they would even be able to read the message sent to them), plus off-screen voice acting was very wooden. That's pretty much it. As it stands tonight though, it is my favorite film I have seen this year. I don't want to call it groundbreaking what Chaganty did as far as influence goes (I don't expect many of these films to suddenly churn out as a result), but as far as accomplishing intent in a unique manner I think he did what no one else has before, and it works far too well for the story he told.

For those who are curious, this film is not yet rated but I can easily say the MPAA will give this a PG-13.
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The Suspense Built and Built
martimusross12 August 2018
It started slowly as the characters were revealed and like Nordic Noir the narrative drive was the meticulous investigation on the internet. For those on social media this was brilliant for those more technologically naive this was a bore. The silence and mouse clicks let to the suspense for me others thought it made the movie slow. The acting was brilliant and you felt his pain and frustration. A really great movie with an unexpected twist, I loved it.
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Get ready for twists turns and tears!
stuartwoodley-5872219 August 2018
Amazing thriller- twists and turns. Just when you think the ending is too neat- there's another twist and another. Had me crying in the first 5 minutes and sobbing at the end. Original and gripping. This film is gonna be huge!
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One of the best this year
raven-sirius1 December 2018
John Cho is amazingly versatile. But it's not his film alone. If you were looking for Harold and Grace Make a Thriller- don't. This is actually a decent film.

The score was brilliant. Edge of the seat stuff.

The plot timing was spectacular. Other films one looks at the time and knows how much still needs to happen. I forgot the time altogether and watched.

There was even a pleasant surprise which gained a big tic, the use of technology was entirely believable. Real world and today- no ridiculous effects presented as possibilities, instead it could be what you are looking at right now.

This is a true thriller in the vein of thrillers of old, when we had something to be thrilled by, instead of the predictable thriller tropes.

I was supposed to be in bed hours ago. I've just finished the film and wrote this- it was that good.
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evil_twin_in_training4 September 2018
Stop what you are doing. Get to your nearest cinema. Strap in. Enjoy the most intense 90 minutes of your life. Imaginative Gripping Emotional Dramatic Unique WHY ARE YOU STILL READING GO SEE THE DAMN MOVIE!
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A phenomenally intriguing social media-focused movie.
bob-the-movie-man19 August 2018
There have been many movies that have featured computing and, more specifically, social media at their heart. Some these have used the device of the view "from the screen": 2016's entertaining "Nerve" had elements of this, with the majority of the rest of the film being 'augmented reality' over the video. But it was 2014's teen-horror "Unfriended" that set a new bar being seen entirely through a computer screen. No surprise then that the producer of that one - Timur Bekmambetov - is also behind "Searching". For - although taking a few liberties with news vidoes, that may or may not be showing on Youtube - the whole film is shot through computer screens.

"Oh no!" you sigh "another gimmicky B-movie". Far from it. Not only is this a really helpful training film for Windows tips and tricks! It's also a totally absorbing crime mystery anchored by a superb script that keeps the audience guessing to the end.

John Cho - most famous as Sulu in the Star Trek reboots - plays David Kim who is trying to control his 16 year-old daughter Margot (Michelle Ya, in her movie debut). Kim, working in some form of product development, is no technology luddite, and when Margot disappears he uses his nous about social media to try to piece together the fragments of the puzzle to assist police Detective Vick (Debra Messing, "Grace" in "Will and Grace").

To say any more would ruin what is a masterly roller-coaster ride of twists and turns. The script by first-time director Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian doesn't let its audience relax for a moment, spawning more movie cul-de-sacs and red herrings than a classic Agatha Christie.

In the acting stakes John Cho - who really doesn't get given much to do in the Star Trek background - is here impressively believable as the parent, struggling with both bringing up a teen - enough to stress any mortal out - and an emotional past. Ms La is also equally engaging, given most of her scenes are via close-up web cam.

Criticisms? The film, at 102 minutes, might have usefully trimmed 10 minutes to be an even tighter 90 minute classic. I also thought it pulled its punches in the finale, where a director of the calibre of Hitchcock might have gone for a much darker angle without a qualm.

But I'm nit-picking. This is an excellent thriller that also effectively drills into grief and bereavement. It also ironically highlights that whilst broadcasting by people has never been more prevelant, communication between family members has seldom been so lacking.

Clearly people agree with me that it is excellent: the preview cinema audience I saw this with was buzzing afterwards, and this won the "Audience Award" at Sundance.

"Searching" will be on general release in the UK and US from August 31st 2018. Highly recommended!
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Compelling story, engaging presentation
jg_19773 September 2018
I just got out of seeing Searching, a "screen life" movie written and directed by Aneesh Chaganty, and I can't overstate how much I enjoyed it. Why I liked this movie can be summed up quite succinctly with four simple words: compelling story, engaging presentation. Allow me to elaborate.This movie has an incredibly well written story. It starts with a heartfelt sequence of home movies that endears you to all of our main characters in minutes, quite similar to the beginning of Up (2009). It then unfolds a mystery, layer by layer, until you are quite literally on the edge of your seat, in anticipation for the final reveal. At no point along the way does it ever really slow down or get dull. Everything that happens is meaningful and contributes to either the narrative or the tone. A big part of the story working so well has to do with the excellent performance from John Cho. The entire premise of the story hinges upon his performance as he is the emotional core of it all. Without him, this movie might not be nearly as good. In addition to having a tight, well-written screenplay, Searching also is presented in an incredibly fascinating way. Chaganty uses the restrictions of "screen life" to his favor by creating inventive and new ways to present information. In doing so, he truly draws the viewer into the perspective of John Cho's character as everything is essentially shown from his point of view. This heightens both the tension as we learn things at the same time he does, as well as makes his character that much more empathetic. 2018 has had a pretty stellar summer in terms of the quality of movies that we've seen, and Searching thankfully doesn't break the trend. It wouldn't surprise me if this becomes the sleeper hit of the summer. It's quite good. Do yourself a favor and go see it!
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10/10 for originality
Padreviews25 August 2018
The trailer intrigued me .

The first 5 minutes of this film draws you in and it's 10/10 for most of film only in small doses did it drop to 9/10.

It wasn't perfect but it's as close as you can get to it but gets the top score for originality .

It's so immersive , you're there , you are the father , he does what you would do . People who don't use the internet may not get this film but for those who do - you're going to love this .

This uses the big screen to condense your vision into the small screen - filmed in a form of first person POV - but you see both sides of the camera - you see what the character sees and and you see the character be it visually or in text form.

This thriller is what cinema has been waiting for - the next step is the 4th dimension but that's an idea I've been working on so it's not relevant to this review .

Like all good thrillers it's got twists and turns and although you might guess the ending as I did you are still not sure as you're constantly given plausible alternatives .

What I loved about the film was the journey as the characters develop so does the operating system , software and hardware making the story very believable - it's definitely a film for the gadget loving social media using cyber generation and its use of live chat is groundbteaking - the film just feels so real - with typos and corrections , deletes all making it so absorbing . Even trolls rear their ugly heads .

This is a must see for thriller loving tech wizards - this was the perfect film for me .

Overall 9.5/10 but that can easily be rounded up to 10/10 for originality

Pad.A 10/10
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Keep an Open Mind
rmpower-3210030 November 2018
I saw this movie last night. At first I did not like the format which mostly was looking at computer input. I told myself to keep an open mind. In no time at all I was wrapped up on this story of a father desperately trying to find his daughter. The story was riveting; it keeps you glued to the movie right to the end. Truly enjoyed it!
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not as gimmicky as I thought!
sohn71727 August 2018
Great performances by all the actors. an intelligently-written and well-paced script; it really respected the audience's intelligence so that's always appreciated. It mislead and surprised more than once.

and hell yeah to having an Indian American filmmaker and Korean American lead create an entertaining and well-received movie, especially so soon after Crazy Rich Asians.
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Highly original and compelling thriller
Red-Barracuda24 June 2018
This is a thriller which can certainly be accurately described as original. It takes a fairly typical suspense story about a recently widowed father whose daughter vanishes one night and presents it in a most unique way. The whole film plays out on the computer screen via programs such as Facetime, iMessage, Gmail, Tumblr, Facebook, etc. In this way, it reflects the reality that so many people now live, given that so many nowadays are literally never off their devices. In this way, the film is completely relevant and taps into a scenario most will be able to clearly identify with. The conceit is also terrific in that it accentuates the mystery element of the story, where we stumble upon clues via the various social media platforms. The very limitations of the set-up ultimately amplify the material and take it to another level. I found it to be one of the most original, gripping and compelling thrillers I have seen in quite a while. Lead actor John Cho must be credited too with giving a strong central performance as the grieving father, with some good additional work from Debra Messing as the detective assigned to the case. All-in-all, a fantastic bit of work.
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SEARCHING: A New Cinematic Language
ghetarr200120 July 2018
Searching may be told in a uniquely digital format, but at the core, this is a story of family, loss, and grief. The film features plenty of twists and turns, and packs an emotional punch on the way to a rollercoaster finale. Ultimately, Searching employs a style of filmmaking built for the social media age, whilst operating like a typical suspense thriller. Searching does not rely upon these technological platforms as a storytelling gimmick, though. The technological platforms instead are used to better demonstrate the disconnect that can occur between a parent and child when faced with tragedy. The film continuously shows ways in which advancements in technology have dramatically changed family interaction, for better or worse.

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iPhones, online videos, desktop and laptop screens are all tools used in different scenes throughout the film. The different modes of communication are integrated seamlessly. Today's younger generations use technology with ease to interact with peers, as well as conceal certain truths, projecting only an image they deem fit to display. In the film, we see how young people may take advantage of these platforms to express themselves in an honest way online that they simply cannot do in the company of a parent.

The experience of viewing Searching presents a few questions: Despite the unprecedented access people now have to one another, whether by phones, screens, or text, does the communication itself between us really improve? What is the definition of a friend in this digital world, when the term friend is so casually used? And what, if any, are the differences between our "real-life" persona, and the "digital" one we choose to create? In some ways, Searching reflects a kind of cultural adaptation to the digital age that individuals and families must make, in order to effectively communicate. First time feature director Aneesh Chaganty has pulled off a visual magic trick, and a new cinematic language has either been invented, or perfected.
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Searching: I'm not crying you're crying
Platypuschow24 November 2018
When Searching was initially annouced I was excited, a John Cho straight role and in that unique presentation style? Count me in, this was on paper destined to be something special.

Sadly whenever I hype a movie up like this they tend to fall flat, but not Searching. No, no Searching lived up to my high expectations and the John Cho movie demonstrated that this is one of those guys like Ryan Reynolds and Will Smith who truly can do it all.

The whole movie plays out through pc windows and camera footage. Yes it has been done before with the likes of Unfriended (2014) but they took the concept to the next level here and it works considerably better than you'd imagine.

John Cho delivers an emotional tour de force with some of the best written material I've seen in years. It's so clever, so intricate and just when you think you've got it all figured out another spanner is thrown into the works to make you re-evaluate everything you've seen so far.

As I'm getting older I'm becoming a harsher critic because I've seen everything before. Movies like Searching reaffirm my faith in the industry, it's fresh, it's fascinating and doesn't fall for any of the usual Hollywood tropes.

By far Searching is the best film I've seen in a longtime, a true unconditional triumph and I applaud everyone involved. Outstanding!

The Good:

Very unique cinematography

Powerful performance by Cho

Incredibly smart writing

The Bad:

Nothing springs to mind

Things I Learnt From This Movie:

There is hope for Hollywood yet

John Cho is one of the most underappreciated actors in the industry
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Surprisingly better than I expected
lexxie-7304515 September 2018
After reading the reviews that said it wasn't as gimmicky as it looks, I decided it's worth having a watch. They weren't wrong! It has a different style, and I do think it takes a bit of time to get used to what you're seeing - but this movie is definitely unique, and takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions. Worth every dollar.
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Very original filming and suspensful movie!
allisonlscates3 July 2018
I got the opportunity to see an advanced screening of Searching through the Atlanta Film Society and I really enjoyed it! A quick summary, it's about a father, David Kim (John Cho) whose teenage daughter, Margot suddenly disappears and goes missing. David desperately tries to find his daughter by going through her social media and her text messages, and he discovers there was a lot about his daughter that he never knew.

The entire movie is filmed in a unique way, by it being presented through computer screens and POV shots. At first, when I saw the trailer, I thought it was going to be another one of those shaky camera, first person type filming (think Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield) and I was pleasantly surprised that it was nothing like that at all.

I thought that the film was great. I like who-done-its and this one was done very well. It was excellently written and acted. Aneesh Chaganty does a fantastic job building suspense. What was good about the movie is that there are a lot of surprise twists that keep appearing as the movie progresses. When you watch the film, pay attention to all the little details, because they all build to something and serve a purpose in the film.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie tremendously. It was sad, it was funny, and it was suspenseful. I hope this movie does well at the box office.
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Good movie but the ending is either a hit or miss
kxyang20 September 2018
This movie is for the most part really well done. John Cho is a great actor and puts his all into this movie. The story starts off right away and there is really no downtime. Once his daughter goes missing (which is in the first 5-10 minutes) the movies keeps you guessing until the very end. There are some twist and turns, which keeps you interested.

The only downside is that for some the ending may be a little bit "too Hollywood." The entire movie seems like something that can happen in real life, but during the final 10 minutes it turns into a Hollywood movie, with crazy plots twists and reveals.

Overall it is worth watching and would not be a waste of time.
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Rubbish plot, but aesthetically well crafted
Bertaut9 September 2018
Searching is a film with two main organisational principles; there's the thriller plot, which ostensibly keeps everything moving, and to which everything else should, in theory, be in service. Then there's the aesthetic design, with the entire film taking place online, the images presented taking the form of what is seen on computer screens, iPhones, security cameras etc. One of these principles is exceptionally well handled, the other isn't, and it shouldn't take a genius to guess which is which. If we're being really honest, in fact, the plot becomes more and more incidental as the narrative progresses and ever more ludicrous flights of fancy are introduced, transposing the story from a search for a missing girl into a litany of clichés and melodrama. On the other hand, the main reason, indeed probably the only reason any of us saw the film at all is because of its unique visual schema, and thankfully, this aspect is realised with an impressive degree of craft. You know you're in reasonably secure territory when the filmmakers are self-aware enough to begin an online film depicting the latest in consumer technology with the sound of an old dial-up connection.

Written by Aneesh Chaganty and Sev Ohanian, and directed by Chaganty, the film begins with a montage of video clips depicting various events in the recent lives of David Kim (John Cho), his wife Pamela (Sara Sohn), and their daughter Margot (Michelle La). The montage covers several years, taking in Margot's childhood, Pamela's diagnosis with cancer, the disease going into remission, her relapse, and, finally, her deterioration and eventual death. This brings us up to roughly the present day, with Margot now a teenager who has drifted apart from her father, although David himself doesn't seem to have noticed. In the early hours of the morning on a night when Margot left the house to attend a study group, she calls David three times, but he is asleep and doesn't hear the phone. Seeing the missed calls the next morning, and realising Margot isn't in the house, he tries to call her back, but her phone is turned off. Assuming she left early to attend a piano lesson, he calls the teacher, but she tells him Margot cancelled the lessons six months prior. Thereafter, he discovers that the money he had been giving her for her lessons was instead being deposited into her bank account, and, several weeks ago, the entirety was transferred to a now deactivated Venmo account. Frantic, David reports her missing, with the case assigned to Det. Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing). However, as David and Vick begin to delve deeper into Margot's life, David is shocked to learn she has no friends at school, and has instead an online existence of which he knew nothing. Meanwhile, every investigative avenue seems to throw up another mystery, and as time passes, it begins to look more and more as if Margot has simply run away. David, however, refuses to believe this, with his wildly vacillating suspicions regarding who may have been behind her disappearance ranging from a friendly YouCast (video blogging site) user, a disrespectful pot-smoking Facebook user, his own brother Peter (Joseph Lee), and everyone in between.

Although the plot has a reasonably strong forward momentum, with a well-judged pace, it comes across as initially insipid, and ultimately rather ridiculous. If this was a standardly shot film, without the unique visual design, no one would be giving it a second glance - the thriller plot is clichéd, derivative, and trite, and despite the foolishness into which it descends, it's also fairly predictable (I guessed who the villain was, although not why they were so villainous). In this sense, the film reminds me of something like Robert Montgomery's Lady in the Lake (1946) or Sebastian Schipper's Victoria (2015). Both feature dull and hackneyed plots that serve only as something onto which to hang the structure, rather than the other way around; Lady in the Lake is shot entirely in the first-person, whilst Victoria is shot in a single continuous take, and neither is worth looking at for their plot, characters, or dialogue.

With this in mind, the aesthetic aspect of Searching is much more successful, with almost the entire film taking place on a computer screen, with Facetime conversations, iPhone messages, security camera footage, and TV material rounding out the design. It's a fascinating hook, and thankfully, it does more than simply exist to carry a poorly written plot - the filmmakers actually have something to say, albeit nothing too revolutionary.

The first thing to know is that the aesthetic is extremely well crafted; from Chaganty's direction to Juan Sebastian Baron's cinematography, to, especially, Nicholas D. Johnson and Will Merrick's editing; logistically, this can't have been an easy film to plan or shoot, and the fact that the various components that go into making up the final image all work so well together suggests a great degree of care. In tandem with this, whilst the overarching plot is poor, Chaganty and Ohanian's writing is excellent in terms of how it continually finds natural ways to confine the action to a screen - whether it's David looking into Margot's finances, Vick watching FaceTime conversations, TV news showing security footage - never once did it feel like a gimmick, like it was being forced to stay within the computer screen simply to satisfy an abstract aesthetic rubric. It all worked reasonably organically, and after a few minutes of acclimating yourself, you barely even register it anymore.

Within this, the filmmakers are even able to throw up a few surprises. For example, the structure grants us more access to David's interiority than would be possible in a regular film. How so? Simple - by employing something we've all done, many times. On several occasions, David is shown typing something during a conversation, only to delete it, and send something completely different, whether because the first message was angry, or emotionally revealing, or accusatory etc. Anyone who has spent any amount of time talking online or via text will be familiar with this, and the use of it in the film allows us a glance into his psyche, showing us where his mind is in an unfiltered sense, before self-censorship kicks in. It only happens a few times (if it happened too much, it would become meaningless), but it really does impart a degree of psychological verisimilitude that I wasn't expecting.

Additionally, as mentioned earlier, the film actually uses the visual design to offer some social commentary, which is, again, something I wasn't expecting. Chaganty himself is a former Google Creative Lab employee, so he would know a thing or two about issues such as the uses and over-uses of technology, the unpleasant side of online culture, and the notion of digital footprints, and it is these areas where most of the film's more salient points are concentrated. For example, the addiction to technology and social media so prevalent in today's culture is right there in the set-up - the entire Kim family are obsessed with speaking to one another via phones and computers, and recording pretty much everything, often at the expense of having more natural face-to-face conversations. Another subject is the toxicity of the internet, the prevalence of online troll culture, and the tendency for people to say things online that they never would in person, believing that the anonymity afforded by the internet gives them the right to be unpleasant. This is communicated primarily through one scene - after watching a news report about Margot on YouTube, David begins reading the comments, which almost immediately start making jokes about him having killed her, and being "father of the year" (presented as a meme, obviously, because typing is such a drag). A very pertinent topic in the wake of Trump's election is the dissemination of fake news, and this is conveyed through a half-funny, half-unpleasant scene - shortly after realising Margot was missing, David had spoken to Abigail (Briana McLean), at whose house the study group had taken place, who confesses that she barely knew Margot. Later on, however, when the media is swarming all over the case, she is seen on the news, tearfully lamenting how much she misses her "best friend." The impossibility ever being invisible online is another topic. Yes, the film is about a person who had an entire online existence that no one knew about, but that was only because no one had looked. Once someone did, and once a few threads were pulled, everything is exposed, as the impossibility of erasing ones digital footprint becomes manifest in the story. Anyone who has spent any amount of time online will be familiar with many of these, and the fact that they all ring so true, without the film becoming preachy, is a testament to the quality of the film-making.

Finally, and this cannot be overemphasised, the film includes a pitch-perfect, perfect timed, perfectly delivered Justin Bieber joke that is absolutely hilarious, and has to be seen to be appreciated.

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An excellent film, despite the distracting direction.
Sleepin_Dragon1 September 2018
I am so glad to see so many positive reviews for this film, and I can see why, as it is an excellent film. How nice is it to see a Chinese/American cast lead a film, very welcome indeed. The story is excellent, I really liked how it unfolded, it's a thriller set very much in modern times, the prime obstacles being social media, and the people who live their lives through it. The action was excellent, and as a lover of twists in movies, I was well served here, plenty, lots of things I didn't see coming, really enjoyed.

Personally I didn't like the direction of the film, just as the same format spoiled The Shallows, I didn't like the way the story was told, too much advertising for the media giants, and it distracted from the film. The start was very slow, and the ending stretched the imagination beyond belief.

A few minor quibbles, but they didn't detract from what is an excellent movie, the best thriller I've watched in a cinema for many years, I also felt it gave an important message about Social media, and the dangers and restraints it places on people.

Nice to see the thriller genre can still surprise. 8/10
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A stunning tale with countless twists and turns!
marcjinx24 July 2018
Watched the film today and I must say I was extremely surprised with how much I enjoyed this film. Not your typical thriller! A must watch.
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