Roger Thomas Review: ‘Searching’: Every parents’ nightmare comes to the big screen

Published 9:51 am Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Occasionally timing is everything. You are ready to do something, and then another event hinders the excitement. Or makes you more enthusiastic.
Sometimes, you want to see a film, but then something about the film deters you. I seldom have that problem. But sometimes art does mirror life and I find myself caught up in a story on screen that reminds me acutely of my personal life.
I moved my daughter to Chapel Hill one Saturday last August. We did all the usual things: the drive to the campus, unpacking, setting up the room, adding to the recycling bins in the parking lot.
After some debate we chose our last meal together for a while, we broke the bread and other things. Then we carried my daughter back to her dorm, and, of course, there was hugging and crying, then finally departing.
We did all those things and then the next week I saw the film “Searching.”
“Searching” is a film about a man who cannot locate his teenage daughter. He begins by being slightly worried, but as he learns things about his only child, he becomes more frightened.
How well did the father know his child?
Was their relationship not what the father thought it was?
As I watched the film, I could relate to the father, David Kim, played by John Cho. I was in a dark theatre watching a fictional father worrying about where his sixteen daughter is. That screen father wonders who his daughter is? Who is she with? What is she doing.? Wow, that night I could relate with David Kim, the film’s father.
I also liked Michelle La’s performance as the teenager Margot. Margot is mostly seen through recorded parts of her life. (Four actresses portray Margot throughout the film.)
Margot is seen as a 5-year-old, then 7, 9 and as a teenager girl who may or may not be missing. These changing actresses are seamless, portraying a young girl that one truly hopes will be united with her father.
“Searching” is not a perfect film or even a great one. My No. 1 regret is the fact that the film looks from the perspective of a computer almost all of the time. There may be a moment or two when what the audience sees is not coming out of a screen, but actually I think there are not any shots that are not photos, films, emails, face-book happenings, and other popular communication venues. It was creative in the beginning, but I grew tired of it before the film’s 102 minutes rolled off the reel. The story was fine, it is the presentation that I did not embrace.
I did like some of the twists of the film better than others. I will not describe any of those moments, of course, but I just thought some of them worked very well, while others left me thinking: “That scene and this one, too, could have ended on the editors floor and nothing would have been lost.”
So be ready for some smart moments and some less than that. Overall, this thriller keeps one’s attention with all the twists and turns. I am sure most of the audience will stay involved to the end.
As for my number one girl, I do not call my daughter every day. I call her about every few days, but she needs her space. I also told her to go see “Searching” and that we would talk about it afterward. I still plan to do that.
But for everyone who is not my child, the film is not a masterpiece. I have already discussed that above.
But if you are a parent, you will more than likely relate to most of what happens on screen, even if your life as a parent is much calmer than David Kim’s.

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.