David (John Cho) devotedly searches for information about his missing daughter, Margot, through social media accounts, messages, and forums, and an unsettling picture emerges of how her digital life differed from her real life. He discovers that she eats alone at school, she doesn’t really have friends, and she’s collecting money for piano lessons and using it elsewhere. The hunt continues, and more disturbing suspicions emerge, including drug use, abduction, sexual misconduct, rape, and murder.
The screenshot storytelling of Searching, with its twist-and-turn plot, gives us a rolling display of how technology connects, convolutes, and disconnects life. There’s a myriad of clues; yet, the possible solutions seem infinitely frustrating, as webpage leads to webpage. For David, each step towards finding Margot is a tragic reinforcement of how little he actually knew her.
In the era of the Internet, Searching shows how people are still people, capable of both damage and devotion. Through the perspectives of technology and humanity, we may consider the film’s title two ways. There is the searching that a computer does: clinical, emotionless, and mechanical. There is the searching that a father does: devoted, emotional, and human. A father’s devotion, though flawed, drives the story, and there is the potential for some positive conversations regarding relationships and technology. However, due to the amount of disturbing sexual and violent content, illegal drug use, negative themes and language, Searching is not Dove-Approved.
The Dove Take
Mysterious and unsettling, Searching displays a glimpse of our society’s obsession with life online, including the depth of depravity it can create.