Too often in the news we read of a young woman who simply vanishes, disappears from the life she lived, from her friends, family and loved ones.
In this compelling and intricate mystery, “Searching,” we enter the world of the father of a 16-year-old girl. He frantically searches for clues to his daughter’s disappearance. In a complex series of reveals, he discovers that the daughter that he knew had sides to her personality that he never suspected. Some of those sides turned out to be fraught with danger. The danger, of course, does not resonate with the naive 16-year-old victim. Older folk know that the inter Web is not always a safe place to spend one’s time.
John Cho plays the desperate and confused father. We know him best as Sulu in the new version of “Star Trek” (a new one in the works btw) but he has more than 100 screen credits. You may have seen him in the stoner flicks “Harold and Kumar go to ...”. He has an admirable range of ability. Here he makes a superb effort.
The only other famous name in the movie is Debra Messing who has a supporting role as a detective, also trying to find the missing young woman or at least to discover what happened to her. The 16-year-old girl herself is played by first time to the big screen Michelle La. La plays a girl in her mid teens but she herself is a grown-up, married woman. We watchers would never guess.
Also a first time in the bigs is director Aeesh Chagant. Chagant has made a batch of shorts, but “Searching” marks his debut on the silver screen. He also co-wrote the script, his first feature length script. He co-writer is Sev Ohanian who has done a lot of jobs in Hollywood but has mostly worked as a producer. Between Ohanian and Chagant the pair covers the key roles of director, writer and producer. Messing, star Cho and Ohanian are all three among the producers. I like it when people acting or otherwise involved in making the movie also have a hand in producing. It shows a strong level of commitment. Here it pays off in the making of a great, enjoyable, riveting film.
In 1971 Sean Connery made a film called “The Anderson Tapes” where a good bit of the movie consists of clips of secret tapes and hidden cameras. Chagant takes us into the new century by having the father use the Web to search his daughter’s activities. He is searching for leads on the Web that he can translate into clues to find his daughter.
“Searching” has already made the list of best films of 2018. I concur. I put it in top films of the year and among the very best mystery/suspense films of all time.
Made with a strong budget of $32.5 million the film has a mild PG-13 rating that notes some mildish language issues and themes of sex and drugs that are usually referenced rather than shown. This most excellent four saw blade film runs for one hour and 42 minutes.
The film picked up two awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in 2018. Director Chaganty filmed the movie in a very short 13 days but it took two years to edit the film and put in the computer-aided features. In a new twist to me, the director made a full length film but with Chaganty playing all the parts. He showed this rough film to the cast to make his vision clear. It worked too.