Review: Searching a modern whodunit that really works

After an impressive run across the film festival circuit including the NZ International Film Festival, the film Searching is out on general release across the country.

It's the story of a father searching for his missing daughter, but tells the story very differently.

It's a great week to celebrate diversity in US cinema; as Crazy Rich Asians cleans up at the box office in New Zealand, also on offer is a clever new whodunit with an Asian-American father and his family front and centre.

David's day starts out like any other; his daughter Margot isn't answering her phone, but that's nothing new. Soon though, the worry niggle blows up into a parent's worst nightmare - nobody has seen Margot since yesterday.

Searching isn't told like other stories. We watch all the strands of this unfold in the most modern of ways - laptop webcams, Skype, Facebook messages Google Maps, network news coverage, traffic cameras, CCTV, home video - and it's amazing how kinetic the pace gets, and how quickly we become immersed in the clues and the creeping sense of dread.

John Cho is excellent, offset nicely against Debra Messing as the detective brought in to headline the hunt. Both actors show serious dramatic chops, with their searching of course uncovering so much more than anyone was expecting.

It may seem a little gimmicky in terms of story delivery, but it really works. There is a great little whodunit story buried within to keep us guessing, and the performances are perfectly pitched. A good three-and-a-half-star watch.