Making a movie about trying to find a missing person is not a new concept. But the way that Searching presents this type of movie is new, unique, and well-executed.
This is a film about a recent widower whose daughter goes missing and his search for her. The gimmick here is that the whole film is presented through screens – computers, cell phones, or televisions. It is a bold and interesting choice to present the story in this unique way, but it actually works out well in this situation.
First off, the film is well-written. Everything from the plot to the characters keeps the viewer engaged. It is written in such a way that it is able to all take place on screens. Margot, the daughter, has a strong online presence, which allows David, her father, and law enforcement officials to investigate online.
At no point does this seem forced, though. I went into my viewing almost expecting the gimmick to be used as a crutch, but instead, it is only used to enhance the story. One of the earliest shots introduces the film’s message, but it never really hits home until the end. I won’t go into what this message is, as it would spoil David’s arc. But it is effective and powerful, once all the details of the story are brought to light.
In the spirit of only talking in detail about the earlier parts of the movie, the opening sequence can possibly rival that of Up. I mean this in the sense that it portrays a deeply somber set of events with little to no dialogue. This movie’s way of showing flashbacks of Margot growing up is to show a progression of home videos and photos. It makes it feel personal and close to home right from the beginning, since it feels like your friend is showing you videos of their daughter.
Because of the tone that is set here at the beginning, the rest of the movie feels important and personal. Unfortunately, I can’t do it justice without talking about the end. But overall, Searching is a gripping mystery with many twists and turns along the way. It drives home powerful points about the importance of family and what that could mean in a time of tragedy.