Did You Watch “Searching” This Weekend?

On Friday I went to see “Searching,” a mystery/thriller starring John Cho. It’s not the type of movie I would normally get excited about, but I’m really glad I went to see it, because I absolutely loved it.

The twist in Searching is that everything you see is on a screen. That is, you’re watching video footage mostly of computer screens and phones. However, it’s not a “found footage” movie–the screens, text, and videos are crystal clear. I think the text might be a little small for TV viewing, so I’m thankful I saw it in the theater.

This may sound like a gimmick, but really it’s an excellent, engaging storytelling device. A man’s daughter has gone missing, and everything you see is the man trying to find her. It’s important that we see what Cho sees (we also see a fair amount of Cho himself, and he does a great job).

One little effect I really liked is that there are a number of times where Cho types something but doesn’t send it. Rather, he deletes what he wrote and writes something else. It really puts you in his head.

But the biggest impact this method has is that it gives the viewers a TON of opportunities to unravel the mystery at the same pace as Cho, or even ahead of him. The movie doesn’t hide anything. I went with a friend, and we had one of the best post-movie discussions I’ve had in a while, as we both noticed different clues at different times.

It was as if we were participating in the movie, not just watching it, which was awesome.

If that sounds appealing to you, I highly, highly recommend Searching. Plus, I’d love to hear which clues you identify before the character does–feel free to mark them under “spoilers” in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Did You Watch “Searching” This Weekend?”

  1. Jamey,

    This is definitely on my list to see. I listened to an interview on NPR with the woman who plays the detective and she said there were so many emotional scenes, she found herself crying on the set with Cho simply to release the tension brought about by the great script and narrative arc of this movie. That alone speaks volumes of this movie’s impact.


    • Joe: Thanks for sharing! It’s neat that the movie had such an impact on the actors. With you as a father, I can imagine this movie will be particularly tense.

  2. I remember seeing the trailer for this several times over the summer and I was quite intrigued. I love a good mystery movie/novel so it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll try to remember to report back once I’ve seen it. 🙂

    • Charles: Given your day job, I think you might really enjoy this (though you also might detect some holes in it–we’ll see!)

      • Well, you win. I’m going to brave this tropical storm and go catch a late showing. I’ll report back in the morning. 🙂

  3. Looks like your blog ate the entry I just submitted so let me retype it:

    Finally saw it last night and I thought it was great! Spoilers below:

    My proudest moment was probably figuring out that Uncle Peter is somehow involved in this situation. Their FaceTime conversation ended at 9:01pm with someone knocking on the door and shortly after, Margot’s classmate told David that she left the study group around 9. I put 2 and 2 together and I stuck to this theory most of the movie. Too bad it was only one of the many twists. I also remembered that one of the school contacts on Pam’s desktop mentioned that a student had a crush on Margot for a while but I focused on that nugget of information instead of the name so I wasn’t able to connect to it to Robert once Detective Vick mentioned him. I’m curious to go back and how it was identified… or did you catch that?

    Given my day job, I had issues with the way Detective Vick ran her investigation but as the movie unraveled, it became clear that it was meant to be that way? I think? Otherwise, lucky coincidence. 🙂 My biggest gripe, and that’s a pet peeve of mine in movies, is the way the movie treated the viewers’ intelligence. I love movies that assume viewers are smart, intelligent beings and expect them to follow along. For example, my whole theater gasped as soon as we saw the red-haired woman’s picture on the memorial site. Everyone got it instantly. I don’t think there was a need to have David go back to the YouCast video and show that it was the same woman as “fish_n_chips”. We had figure it out on our own, no need to have David put the pictures side by side and click back and forth. Same thing when David saw the news article of Detective Vick with the ex-convicts the second time. We knew instantly that it was the guy who confessed to Margot’s murder. But that’s just a small nitpick. 🙂 Really glad you recommended it, I probably would have waited for a rental otherwise.

    What clues did you pick up if you care to share?

    • Well done, Charles! I missed the timing that you mentioned, though my friend caught the “crush” clue (I missed that one too). I recognized the ex-convict from photo (I know you caught this too, but I’m not sure most people do–I don’t mind that the movie reminded us of it later), as well as the clue very early about a hiker who had survived being lost in the mountains for a week. My friend also caught a clue about the lake by looking at one of the maps shown early on.

      I think the only time I felt the audience was treated a little dumber than we should have was when the character called the stock photo model. I think it was pretty clear to us (as it should have been to him) that it was a stock photo used by an anonymous person, not the actual model herself.


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