Searching ★★★★★

What Searching reminds me of, oddly enough, is the very first episode of Sherlock. Not because they have anything in common in terms of story or character - they don't, beyond both being mystery/thrillers - but because you might have forgotten that, in that first episode of Sherlock, Stephen Moffat invented new cinematic language when, in order to depict characters texting, he simply superimposed the texts on the screen like subtitles. That's where it started, that bit of cinematic language that's become ubiquitous because it works so well - before then everybody simply showed characters fiddling with their phones and filmed the actual message on the phone, which works all right - but Moffat's way is better because it lets the filmmaker depict the character and their texts at the same time. It's a better way to use texting in a visual medium, and in that small but significant way it changed the game.

In Searching, Aneesh Chaganty does much the same thing, except instead of texting it is basically all of the internet and computers this time, making a bold visual storytelling statement: we are so familiar with computers at this point that we can understand, easily enough, how search windows and web pages work - for real, not some made-up Hollywood versions of these things - and use them to tell stories, create character beats, work in moment-to-moment tension. It's a must-see for anybody who wants to know how screen-time is going to be visualized in movies going forward, because this is how it's going to work now - which means "it's going to work so much better."

On top of its instant historical importance, though, it's also a superb thriller, perfectly paced and executed using humour to diffuse tension just long enough until it hits you with dramatic revelations ten times as hard. John Cho is, unsurprisingly, superb (this is the third year in a row where he's going to end up in a film I consider one of the ten best of the year) and carries the movie on his back.

Go see this. Right now.