Searching (2018)

ANEESH CHAGANTY

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.  USA, 2018.  .  Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by , , .  Produced by , Sev Ohanian, , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Nicholas D. Johnson, Will Merrick.

‘s teenage daughter tells him that she will be spending a late night at a friend’s place studying for an exam, but when she is not in the house the next morning, he is mildly concerned; when it gets to the end of the school day and she has not been to class or called him, he starts to panic and calls the authorities.  The detective assigned to the case () begins to look into the matter while he pores through her laptop and phone, calling her contacts and discovering that, unbeknownst to him, his daughter has been something of a loner and that the grief of her mother’s death is an issue between the two of them that they have not properly dealt with.  What is important to point out about this engaging film, blessed with more than its fair share of plot twists, is that none of it happens on a movie screen, the entire experience is related through technology so that you are always staring at a smartphone, tablet or computer screen and getting information through either text or video messages.  This sounds like the worst kind of uninspired experiment, another in the long line of excruciating “found footage” movies that are so concerned with their gimmick that they forget to be entertaining, but the mystery of the young woman’s disappearance actually does wrap you up in its tendrils and finding out what happened to her becomes so much more important as the twists become so much stranger.  I don’t know how believable it is that someone would facetime the police this much, but it helps that Cho keeps a tight rein on the lead role, commanding your sympathy and never letting it feel like he’s just a figure on the other end of a video chat, while Messing provides plenty of compelling support as the professional who is grasping at clues to figure it out herself.

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