The once-friendly Kim family has experienced a terrible tragedy. Pamela Kim (Sarah Sohn), wife of David (John Cho) and mother of Margo (Michelle Lah), fell ill with lymphoma and died after a severe long illness, leaving her husband with a sixteen-year-old daughter.
Two years have passed. David could not come to terms with the loss of his wife and refuses to talk with his daughter about Pamela, although this is very important and necessary for her. David, as befits a good father, controls what happens in his daughter’s life, but still gives her a certain freedom.
At some point, Margot asks her father to spend the night with a friend – they are going to prepare for the exam in the senior class. At night, the girl calls her father twice, but he does not hear the calls. The next day, David tries to get through to Margot, but fails. At first he is terribly angry, but when he finds out that Margo was not at school and she also was not at the piano lesson, he realizes that something very bad has happened.
Inspector Rosemary Vick (Debra Messing) starts investigating what happened. She asks David to tell her everything he can find out about his daughter. Margot’s laptop was left at home, David guesses the password to her mailbox, after that he gets access to her social networks and finds out with great surprise that he, it turns out, did not know much about Margot.
Movies that take place on a computer screen even have their own name screenlife, that is, “life on the screen.” Many viewers believe that this genre was invented by Timur Bekmambetov – his “Remove from Friends” staged by Levan Gabriadze in 2015 made a great sensation and collected an excellent box office: with a budget of only $1 million, he earned as much as $64 million around the world, thus showing an astonishing TCC equal to 64.
But in fact, a year before Bekmambetov, a film by the Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo “Open Windows” was released, shot in the style of screenlife: Elijah Wood and Sasha Gray played there. But this film, apparently, was shown only in some third countries, at the box office it failed with a wild crash and on IMDB it has a rating below the baseboard.
By the way, “Remove from friends” on IMDB also has a low rating of 5.6, but with a GCC of 64, Bekmambetov may not pay the slightest attention to this. Well, after the complete failure of his two expensive Hollywood projects “President Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (we note that the film really turned out to be surprisingly lousy) and “Ben Hur” (I didn’t even watch it), Bekmambetov realized that the films in screenlife style is what you need! So let’s go – “Hack Bloggers” (outrageous junk), “Profile” (well received, I’m going to look), “Unfriend: Darknet” (low rating), future “Liked”.
Plus, the film “Search” – a 2018 film produced by Bekmambetov and directed by newcomer Anish Chaganti – is his first feature film. The screenplay was written by Anish Chaganti and Sev Ohanian.
The rating of the picture was very high, so I decided to see how this style looks after all – to join, so to speak.
I must say that this film was shot in a very original way. There was no cameraman or movie cameras here (except for a few outdoor scenes). Everything was filmed with webcams. In order for the actors to understand what is generally expected of them, director Anish Chaganti shot a sketch of the film in seven weeks, where he himself played all the roles. Before filming began, this sketch was shown to the actors, and as a result, everything that was needed was filmed in less than two weeks. True, then two more years were spent on post-production – in such films this is the most difficult thing.
Initially, Chaganti was going to make a short film on this plot, but it was Bekmambetov who persuaded him to take on a full-length picture – he was sure that it would work.
John Cho was nominated for the lead role by the director. Bekmambetov said that at first the producers were taken aback: John Cho was primarily associated with Harold and Kumar, who, as you know, went into the gap and never returned, but here it seems like a detective thriller.
But the candidacy was accepted and, in general, they did not lose: in the role of David, John Cho looks quite convincing. Not to say, however, that his performance was somehow hooked, but here, after all, the picture, so to speak, is more technological than game.
The screenlife genre involves different approaches. Some pictures are made in a completely dogmatic way: here is a computer screen, everything happens on it. Moreover, some of these pictures are shot downright in real time.
“Search” does not suffer from such dogmatism: there are computer screens, and all sorts of close-ups, and images from webcams and surveillance cameras, and news tie-ins. But in general, it’s all shown on the screen.
What can be said about the detective component, because it is primarily a detective story, although staged in such an unusual way? Well, in general, it was interesting to watch this, although after watching you find some plot inconsistencies and even holes, and besides, the ending itself spoiled my impression a little (I won’t spoil it).
But here, besides the detective, another component is also interesting: the fact where the father finds out that he, it turns out, knew very little about his daughter, who hid this information from him on the Internet. Moreover, the father himself was largely to blame for the fact that this happened.
And this is a completely separate direction, which is interesting to study. And the following idea is clearly demonstrated there: when you see lines of correspondence, not knowing the context and not seeing emotions, you have no idea what is hidden behind it, and you can invent the devil knows what. But in fact, and I quote, “things are not at all what they seem,” so there is no need to take hasty actions.
And the movie has an important moral: the passwords for your mailboxes, kids, should be easy to guess. And God forbid what happens…
I was interested in watching this movie. Well done, keeps you in suspense, makes you think about some serious questions. I have never been bored, and besides, I generally like non-standard and complex approaches. Try to make a movie that takes place almost entirely on a computer screen – and in a way that is fun to watch. This is a very difficult task.
But here they got it right. Yes, the script is not without flaws, some moments surprised, but in general – quite worthy.
PS And also thanks for the short story in photographs at the very beginning of the picture, in which several years of the life of the Kim family pass. It reminded me of a similar sketch from the cartoon “Up”.
Searching movie meaning
Director: Anish Chaganti Cast: John Cho, Sara Sohn, Alex Jane Gow, Megan Liu, Kaya Dawn Lau, Michelle La, Joseph Lee, Dominic Hoffman, Sylvia Minasyan, Melissa Disney
Worldwide gross: $75 million
Detective thriller, United States-USA, 2018, 102 min.