Searching Looks At How Relationships Warp Through Technology (Obviously)
Fitting of its medium of delivery, Searching takes a close look at how our relationships have changed with the rise of technology. There's the morality of accessing another person's data, the question of how to handle a deceased family member's accounts, and a judgment-lacking view of Generation Z's childhood shaped by computers.
At the center of the narrative is how it skews our view of the real world. Margot is, of course, catfished, with Vick's son (somewhat accidentally) misleading her about his identity and intentions, leading to near-fatal consequences when it spills over into the real world. Catfishing has become colloquially known thanks to the documentary and subsequent MTV series, but its impact can often be lost. In a more mundane but far-reaching sense, though, the distorting powers of instant communication and social media are highlighted. Margot's Facebook wall in like anybody else's on the surface, yet digging into her friends list reveals nothing but acquaintances and childhood overhangs.
What Searching really balances is how technology enlightens and obscures. Without his access to computers, David wouldn't be able to construct a detailed image of Margot's life and the night of her disappearance; he essentially does what the police should have, had Vick not sabotaged. But it also leads to repeated miscommunication; he suspects his brother of murdering Margot based on vague text messages, and the blanket coverage of the disappearances means he's suspected of doing it almost immediately.
Searching Is Really About Parenting
And yet, despite all that, with its main character and villain twist, at the core of Searching are age-old questions about parenting style. David struggles as a single father, trying to nurture his teenager daughter yet unable to fully communicate his feelings. Vick, meanwhile, is so overly protective of her son that she'll enable him to do despicable things then cover-up when the problems come. These are both exacerbated by technology, adding an extra barrier for David and more complications for Vick, but the differing styles act independently.
The grieving widower aspect cannot be understated. Searching opens with an Up-style montage of Margot's childhood relationship with the family computer that transitions into an account of her mother's battle with cancer, framing David's and her actions with loss. The strain on both David and Margot is felt from the start, and when she vanishes the pain of the past becomes slowly unbearable.
Searching is unequivocally damning of Vick's style, making a clear point that what's important - in all relationships - is communication, whether that be over a screen or face-to-face.
- Searching (2018) release date: Aug 24, 2018