The Reel Review
When 16-year-old Margot Kim (Michelle La) mysteriously disappears from her home in San Jose, California, her father (John Cho) starts delving into her online history to assist the detective (Debra Messing) working the case, and along the way, finds out he doesn’t really know his daughter well at all. This feature film debut from Indian-American writer/director Aneesh Chaganty cleverly explores our culture’s newfound online obsession, highlighting both the benefits as well as the sometimes sinister consequences of our easily-tracked, digital footprints. And Cho (Star Trek: Beyond, Grandma) adeptly captures his character’s escalating panic and frustration. But what starts of as a fresh and timely exploration of that online dichotomy ultimately devolves into a super-contrived, amateurish hybrid of TV crime shows Law & Order and Dateline NBC, only with some ridiculously farfetched plot twists, culminating in a maddeningly contrived, audience-insulting climax. And it started so well…
• In the film, John Cho’s character works for AppEnsure, which is an actual company co-founded by director Aneesh Chaganty’s father.
• Searching also marks the film debut of actress Michelle La, who prior to becoming an actress, was a biochemist studying Los Angeles County wastewater, prior to its reaching the Pacific Ocean. (Yes, poop water.)
• For the German, Spanish, French, Russian and Portuguese versions, filmmakers meticulously recreated every single keystroke in every scene involving a computer/phone/TV screen. That’s dedication!