“Searching” for a Mystery

David Kim (John Chu) journeys through the vast internet to find his daughter.

Hold My Popcorn

David Kim (John Chu) journeys through the vast internet to find his daughter.

Alice Shu, Staff Writer

Searching prides itself in being one of cinema’s only “Computer Screen Movies”, films that take place entirely on computer screens. The movie is successful because the premise of the plot unraveling on a screen is used to help the story, not hinder it. In the end, the focus of the movie is still the mystery that David Kim (John Cho) is trying to solve. When Mr.Kim uses his daughter Margot’s computer to track her whereabouts, we realize that the internet is an important tool when you know what to type into the search bar.

The movie starts with a bittersweet montage of Margot growing up with her loving parents, David and Pamela Kim. We see Margot maturing starting with annual first-day-of-school pictures and cooking with her parents, to questionable internet searches (probably on Incognito), and ending with her first day of tenth grade. David and Margot seem extremely close, but after Margot goes missing following a study session gone wrong, he starts to question his relationship with his daughter as he desperately searches for clues on her computer that can help bring Margot home.

My main problem with David’s Internet searches is that it’s on the Internet. He only visits a select few websites and the content that he finds circulates throughout the movie. As we see profile pictures, Instagram posts, and tidbits from FaceTime over and over again, we realize that these clues are important before David realizes himself. For me, the premise of an Internet search made it easier for me to connect the dots, and as a result, less satisfying to watch David solve the mystery himself.

Another pressing question that I have is how far is too far? The movie itself is really about a father’s journey to learn about her daughter, but how far is paternal love willing to go? What lines are we willing to cross for our loved ones? If your daughter went missing, how much of her (and her friends’) privacy are you willing to invade to bring her back home? David’s exploration through the Internet shows us that, in a classic “Scooby-Doo” move, sometimes the most suspicious person is the one we trust the most.

The second noteworthy thing about Searching is the Asian-American leads, John Cho, Michelle La (Margot), and Joseph Lee (Peter). The film is able to incorporate diversity in the industry, but also in the movie itself. Searching proves that Asian leads can work among a predominantly white cast and that they don’t need an entire movie to contain just Asian leads, Crazy Rich Asians style. Aspects like the Bay Area setting, Pokémon, and traditional Korean cooking make Asian heritage seem relatable, not standalone, which is praiseworthy in an age where diverse films are becoming more and more common.

Searching is able to convey a compelling mystery in a tasteful and creative way, winning on story, graphics, and casting levels. This movie is groundbreaking, making it a must-see for movie and mystery enthusiasts alike.