Earlier today I popped to the cinema to watch Searching, the new thriller from director, Aneesh Chaganty. The movie stars John Cho and Debra Messing and is a tense thriller told exclusively through the use of modern technology.
For those who are unfamiliar with Searching, the film follows a father’s search for his missing daughter as he tries to piece together her whereabouts. Stitched together using different storytelling techniques (YouTube videos, messenger conversations, CCTV, Facetime etc), Searching is a clever movie which keeps things small but introduces big ideas.
I like good thrillers and I’m pleased to confirm that Searching is a damn good thriller. It takes a very simple premise – a father’s search for his daughter – and transforms it into an engaging piece which casts an interesting eye on technology and data use within the confines of an intriguing mystery.
During the course of the movie I felt like I knew exactly where the story was going, only to find out I was being led in the wrong direction. That’s not to say that I wasn’t suspicious of something which later proved to be correct, but for the most part I was carried along by the narrative and that’s largely to do with the way the movie is told.
There have been a number of films which have broken the traditional format of cinematic storytelling to make use of smart phones and computers as a way to create a tale, but none have been quite so effective as this. Searching doesn’t just use tech to craft a yarn, it demonstrates quite cleverly how technology has become such an important part of life – both real and virtual – to create a story.
There were a couple of times where I started to really think about the way in which we all interact with tech – what we put out into cyberspace and what we will tell strangers that we won’t tell our nearest and dearest. We all put so much information out there that sometimes we’re living 90% of our time in the virtual world without even realising it, which is clearly demonstrated in this film.
As tech is so prevalent in all of our lives, Searching doesn’t have to make too much of a stretch to ensure it has a narrative that works – it just needs to show how someone (anyone) can connect the dots. This is very reflective of how life is today, which is pretty scary stuff when you think about it and that’s perhaps why Searching works so well, because it feels so real.
My only real gripe with the movie is the last five minutes, which don’t ruin the story but do, in my opinion, make it a little less than what it could be. I shall not spoil things, but I will say that had the last few minutes not happened I think it would have been a better movie – although, maybe that speaks volumes about me.
Searching is a good thriller, tucked away in the arse-end of the summer. If you have a couple hours to spare then give it a whirl.