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Searching

To search for something is to look for knowledge. How we search for things has changed over the centuries. From ancient texts, microfilm and other forms of technology, the art of obtaining information has transcended all sorts of advances. ‘Searching’ explores how the digital age creates its own fact gathering and obstacles. A missing person thriller in the style of the ‘Without a Trace’ TV series, ‘Searching’ underscores how our determination to uncover clues can yield all sorts of different answers.

When his teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La) goes missing, widower David (John Cho), is hopeful that the ensuing police investigation will track her down. Tasked with finding Margot is Detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing). When even her sturdy skills fail to uncover new information, David takes matters into his own hands. Breaking into his daughter’s laptop computer, he aims to follow her digital footprints which he hopes will lead to her safe return.

First time director Aneesh Chaganty shows great promise with ‘Searching’. Successfully developing characters and teasing out the tension as any seasoned director, Chaganty knows how to generate atmosphere. Hopefulness, despair and vengeance are emotions David experiences in his often frustrating hunt. Cho’s performance effectively captures his character’s determination. His acting range never skims the surface of over the top hysterics with Messing proving a fine co-lead.

As with any good mystery, ‘Searching’ slowly unfurls clues for viewers to decipher leading to genuinely unexpected twists. It’s terrifying how much of today’s world is reliant on computers and also how much personal information people store on them. The sadness in how many seem to live their lives via a computer screen is keenly felt as does the nature of false friendships and ‘fake news’. These elements are interwoven with skill in a tightly written script co-written by Chaganty who doesn’t waste a second of a lean run-time.

‘Searching’ is a solid thriller for the ‘digital age’ and mystery lovers. Clues are there to be deciphered as with any good thriller which ‘Searching’ does a reasonable job in presenting. Although computers are a marvel, pressing the ‘off’ button can still be the best way to engage with life as well as searching for answers away from rectangular machines.

Rating out of 10: 7

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