When his teenage daughter, Margot, fails to come home, widowed father David Kim becomes worried. He calls her piano teacher, only to find out that she quit taking lessons months ago. He asks her friends if they’ve seen her, only to discover that they either didn’t know her very well, or hadn’t spoken to her in years. Things only get worse when the police get involved, and he is forced to break into her laptop to provide them with useful information. In so doing, he learns that she had a whole life he didn’t know about, a life where she was depressed, and possibly didn’t even want to live anymore.
Guys, I’ll be honest; I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie. I mean, I like John Cho, and the reviews were decent. But, come on. How interesting can a film told entirely from the perspective of someone’s laptop really be? As it turns out, very, very interesting. I loved this movie! It’s exciting, well written, and terrifically acted. John Cho proves, once again, that he’s a fantastic leading man, and that Hollywood should definitely cast him in more stuff. There’s a reason why the #starringjohncho movement got started; he’s great, and there really is no excuse not to use him. But, setting that aside, something else that I was surprised by was how the “from a person’s laptop” gimmick really worked in this film’s favor. I really cared about David Kim and Margot, and a large part of this had to do with the fact that their back-story was told to me through social media; i.e. from watching home videos and photos they’d posted online. That’s how most people present themselves these days, and, when done right, It’s very effective in getting you to care about them. This film recognizes that, and uses it to its advantage. Something else that the gimmick did well was conveying character. See, when we’re online, we’ll maybe type things, then think better of it, and delete what we were about to say. This film has David doing that, and the things that he types, or, rather, doesn’t type, speak volumes about his character. They even highlight his emotional arc.
The last thing I really appreciated about this film was how, like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, it normalizes the Asian American experience. With one exception, a scene where David and his brother are talking about a Korean recipe, the Kim’s could be any race imaginable. And that’s great. As I said before, the philosophy in Hollywood, for so long, was, if you’re going to cast people of color, it has to be because the story is about race. And because most people don’t really want to spend their money on depressing films about social issues, films with non-White, specifically Asian, leads are unprofitable. Well, this movie says otherwise. It says, “yes, you can have a mainstream, entertaining thriller, with an Asian lead, that doesn’t have to be about race, and it can do very well.” I’m just hoping that Hollywood looks at the films that have come out in the last two months–Crazy Rich Asians, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, This–and recognize that there is a market for these kinds of stories, and continues to produce them. Only time will tell, but, even if they don’t, I still think you should watch this movie. It’s great.