Searching

Searching

2018, PG-13, 102 min. Directed by Aneesh Chaganty. Starring John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Thomas Barbusca.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 31, 2018

Surprisingly effective for what could easily be labeled a “gimmick film,” Chaganty’s debut feature suspenser unfolds entirely onscreen on screens. The myriad devices that now comprise most people’s methods of interpersonal communication – iPhones, FaceTime, laptops, chat rooms, apps galore, CCTV, ad infinitum – are cunningly deployed here. Chaganty keeps things from becoming too static by overlapping the various boxes of information across the (big) screen, thus rendering the gimmick into a narratively cohesive and ultimately satisfying missing persons thrill-ride.

Crucially, Searching begins with an opening cyber-montage of the evolution of the Kim family, dad David (Cho), mom Pam (Sohn), and their daughter Margot (La). Early-Aughts-era video clips of Margot’s birth, her first day of kindergarten, piano lessons, and so on are shown via the tech of the times, moving from Microsoft Windows heavily pixelated Internet Explorer footage to, eventually, Apple’s crystal clear retina display. It’s a clever, flawless introduction that instantly integrates you into the Kim family’s life via Moore’s law.

Things begin to fall apart for the Kims when Pam is stricken with lymphoma, leaving widower David to finish raising young Margot on his own. Cho shines here as the doting dad who just might not know his equally grieving offspring as well as he should. When Margot fails to return home after a high school study group one night, the story moves into manic parent overdrive with search and rescue teams, led by Detective Rosemary Vick (Messing), covering the jagged canyons outside of San Jose. Soon all the “if it bleeds, it leads” news coverage and a perpetual barrage of Amber Alerts focus on the case. All of this, of course, is viewed by both characters and the audience through the black mirror tech that eventually becomes a sort of character itself.

To say more would defeat the many red herrings, and spoil the increasingly jarring revelations within the film’s narrative. Suffice to say Searching is far more than a simple abduction thriller – Liam Neeson would have probably just shot the hell out of all the devices on display here and gotten nowhere fast – but is also a savvy commentary on both family and our utter dependence on all those weirdly less and less invasive (or are they?) byproducts of the Anthropocene internet age. Searching may strike older viewers as a novel experimental film – which, alongside the Unfriended films and the upcoming Profile, I suppose, to some extent it is – but more importantly it’s a genuine white-knuckling exploration of our relationship with disruptive technology and how that impacts one average American family’s daily life.

For an interview with director Aneesh Chaganty and writer Sev Ohanian, read "Searching For Clues Online," Aug. 30.

Showtimes

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., Sept. 24

CC/DVS 11:30am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:40

Tue., Sept. 25

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:45, 4:20

Wed., Sept. 26

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:45, 4:20

Thu., Sept. 27

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:45, 4:20

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 4:55, 7:35, 10:25

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 4:55, 7:35, 10:25

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 4:55, 9:40

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 4:40, 7:30, 10:20

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 4:40, 7:30, 10:20

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 4:40, 7:30, 10:20

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 4:25, 9:50

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 4:25, 9:50

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 9:50

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 4:15, 9:55

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 4:15, 9:55

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 4:15, 9:55

Thu., Sept. 27

digital 4:15, 9:55

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 10:15am

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 10:15am

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 10:15am

Cinemark Stone Hill Town Center

18820 Hilltop Commercial Dr., 512/251-0938, www.cinemark.com

Mon., Sept. 24

digital 12:25, 3:10, 7:45

Tue., Sept. 25

digital 12:25, 3:10, 7:45

Wed., Sept. 26

digital 12:25, 3:10, 7:30

EVO Entertainment

3200 Kyle Crossing, Kyle, 512/523-9009, www.evo-entertainment.com

Mon., Sept. 24

11:30am, 9:25
OC 11:30am, 9:25

Tue., Sept. 25

11:30am, 9:25
OC 11:30am, 9:25

Wed., Sept. 26

11:30am, 9:25

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Sept. 24

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:15, 7:05, 10:10

Tue., Sept. 25

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:15, 7:05, 10:10

Wed., Sept. 26

CC/DVS 12:10, 3:15, 7:05, 10:10

AMC Lakeline 9

11200 Lakeline Mall Dr., Cedar Park, 512/335-4793

Discounts daily before 6pm.

Mon., Sept. 24

CC/DVS 3:00

Tue., Sept. 25

CC/DVS 3:00

Wed., Sept. 26

CC/DVS 3:00

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Sept. 24

CC/DVS 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:50, 10:25

Tue., Sept. 25

CC/DVS 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:50, 10:25

Wed., Sept. 26

CC/DVS 12:00, 2:35, 5:10, 7:50, 10:25

Thu., Sept. 27

CC/DVS 12:00, 2:35

Moviehouse & Eatery - Lantana Place

7415 Southwest Parkway, Building 7, 512/572-0770, www.themoviehouse.com/lantana/

Mon., Sept. 24

5:15, 7:30

Tue., Sept. 25

5:15, 7:30

Wed., Sept. 26

5:15, 7:30

Thu., Sept. 27

5:15, 7:30

ShowBiz Cinemas 8 Marble Falls

2600 Hwy 281 North, Marble Falls

Call theatre for August 22-23 showtimes.

Mon., Sept. 24

2:10, 4:40, 7:20

Tue., Sept. 25

2:10, 4:40, 7:20

Wed., Sept. 26

2:15, 4:40, 7:20

Thu., Sept. 27

2:10, 4:40, 7:20

Starplex 12 San Marcos

1250 Wonder World Drive, San Marcos, 512/805-8000

Mon., Sept. 24

12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:40

Tue., Sept. 25

12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:40

Wed., Sept. 26

12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:40

Thu., Sept. 27

12:30, 3:00, 5:30, 8:00, 10:40

Westgate 11

4477 S. Lamar, 512/899-2717

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., Sept. 24

CC/DVS 1:35, 4:00, 7:15, 9:10

Tue., Sept. 25

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:15, 9:10

Wed., Sept. 26

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:35, 4:00, 7:15, 9:10

Thu., Sept. 27

CC/DVS 11:10am, 1:35, 4:00

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Searching, Aneesh Chaganty, John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee, Michelle La, Sara Sohn, Thomas Barbusca

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