November 26, 2018  (Web Review)

Searching

Sony, 102 min., PG-13, DVD: $30.99, Blu-ray: $39.99, Nov. 27

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock mysteries, this cool, computer-centric psychological thriller centers on a distraught father’s attempts to find his missing daughter. As shown in a photographic montage, the Kim family of San Jose, CA, has always been close, even after terminal cancer takes Pamela (Sara Sohn), leaving David (John Cho) a widower raising 16-year-old Margot (Michelle La). When she doesn’t come home one night after supposedly attending a study group and does not appear at school the next day, David realizes that he has missed Margot’s calls and tries to reach her, but she doesn’t pick up so he contacts the police. While detective Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) is quick to respond, there are no clues to follow, so an increasingly desperate yet determined David delves into his daughter’s laptop, where all her secrets are kept. Step-by-step, he traces her digital footprint though e-mails, YouTube videos, and Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. When David calls her “friends,” he realizes just how socially isolated she’s become. Soon, Margot’s disappearance goes viral on Twitter with the #FindMargot hashtag. First-time director/co-writer Aneesh Chaganty’s Searching is a suspenseful, cleverly constructed film that plays out through a visually seamless techno-tapestry of digital devices, featuring cursors, desktop alerts, text messages, and Google Maps. Anchored by Cho’s compelling performance, this is an ingenious and innovative drama that illustrates just how much technology has become an integral part of our lives—for better or worse. Recommended. [Note: DVD/Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty and co-writer/producer Sev Ohanian, and the behind-the-scenes segments “Changing the Language of Film” (12 min.), “Update Username: Cast and Characters” (8 min.), and “Searching for Easter Eggs” (6 min.). Exclusive to the Blu-ray release is a bonus digital copy of the film. Bottom line: a fine extras package for a thought-provoking film.] (S. Granger)