December 11, 2018


A brilliant new film entitled "Searching" is about a loving father and his teenage daughter who are both grieving the recent loss of their wife and mom to cancer. What makes this film brilliant--beyond nailing the experience of grief and sometimes awkward or tense father-daughter dynamics? The fact that the entire film is told through screens. When I heard about this film, I thought "not possible," or "gimmicky," but it's nothing of the sort. Instead, we watch just how organic our online lives have become (without it even feeling hi-tech or unnatural). The human elements of life are wonderfully preserved. However, the peril of anonymity and illusion are showcased as well.

What is utterly fascinating is the blend of video and the printed word (mostly texting and online posts) forwarding the story. The thoughts and sentiments people begin typing and then, on second thought, erase is just as important as what they actually wind up sending.

The father-daughter pair actually have a very close relationship and are in constant communication via media devices. The question for parents that always arises as young people individuate and maintain secrets and private lives is "how well do I really know my child NOW"? And, of course, the intense and fluctuating emotions, challenges and choices that pave the way to adulthood are exponentially exacerbated by these digital tools. But it is also these same tools that give insight into and externalize what young people are dealing with and may find hard to express otherwise--at least they give insight in this film where Dad eventually has access to his daughter's innermost world.

BUT why is it that parents who are doing a pretty darn good job at parenting always beat themselves up--and those who could use years of classes on parenting skills think they're amazing? This cinematic Dad falls into the first category. If you watch and listen carefully for the moral of the story, it's the fact that it's always better to talk about it, to go there. Our young people--despite all appearances and attitudes--desperately want and need to talk it out with us, but WE have to provide that space and keep at it.

"Searching" is a mystery, a crime drama, a twisty thriller and a tender familial love story all in one. Kind of a perfect film.

(Perfectly OK for pre-teens and teens.)

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