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Searching is a mystery thriller that sees John Cho take on the role of a desperate father when his teenage daughter goes missing. What follows is a race to track down his daughter’s movements all the while coming to terms with the distance between them following a tragic loss. Cho perfectly captures the desperation, the helplessness, and the confusion of a father that comes to realise that he never knew his daughter. False conversations and fake smiles hide both Margot’s sorrow and depression at the loss of her mother as she isolates herself from her schoolmates and her family.
The urgency of this case was always felt with plenty of twists and turns to keep viewers guessing about the actions and motive behind her disappearance as we deconstruct the relationship she carries with those around her both in the real world and the digital.
The presentation of this narrative is told through the means of digital media in the form of video calls, news reports, social media, and online forums. It’s a unique narrative technique that subtly explores the way we consume media in these ever-changing digital world. It also acts as a commentary on online communities, and how our online activity can be vastly different from the life we present to our parents, teachers, and real-life companions. It can be a safe haven, but it also reminds us of the dangers lurking online. Simple moments like conspiracy theories and unsolicited videos serve as a visual reminder of how instant media is these days, and people aren’t afraid to make rash judgements for the sake of their own entertainment. Humans thrive on the suffering of others, whether they realise it or not, missing children’s cases, serial killers, politics, and any source of high-value drama is content that is quickly capitalised on by the rest of the world, often ignoring the feelings of those directly involved in such cases. It’s a point that is subtly woven into the narrative of the film and makes you think about your own relationship with online media.
Searching is one of the most engaging mystery thrillers in cinema with its unique narrative technique, the urgency of the missing person’s case, and the breakdown of relations between friends, family, and strangers. It’s a movie that effectively makes you question the way we consume media and how online narratives can both lead you astray and guide you home.
What did you think of Searching?
What’s your favourite mystery thriller movie?