Susie Searches Review Kiersey Clemons and the Cast Are Game in a Comedy of Dispersed Mystery

‘Susie Searches’ Review: Kiersey Clemons and the Cast Are Game in a Comedy of Dispersed Mystery

Susie Searches, from director Sophie Kargman, begins with the title character Susie (Kiersey Clemons) stating that as a kid, she always knew how the story would end. In the opening pages of a book, she could immediately figure out the conclusion—an ability she’s used as a college student to start her own true crime podcast. When Susie isn’t in classes, taking care of her mother who has MS, or working at her campus job with her rude coworker Jillian (Rachel Sennott) and her odd boss Edgar (Ken Marino), she’s volunteering at the local police station trying to learn more about solving crimes. When fellow student Jesse (Alex Wolff)—who has some notoriety on campus for his online meditation videos—goes missing, Susie goes on the case, which she hopes will be the one that makes her podcast finally take off.

Co-written by Kargman and Willam Day Frank, Susie Searches is like Jesse’s meditation videos: well-meaning but occasionally awkward in its execution. Susie Searches is a film that delves into some surprisingly dark issues, but under a twee sheen that causes this to feel tonally at odds with itself. That’s sort of the point, as the further this investigation goes, the more we learn that Susie isn’t quite the kind detective trying to do what’s best that we once thought she was, but that still doesn’t make these tonal shifts any less problematic.

Clemons is quite charming in this role, even if these shifts affect her performance the most. Especially in the latter part of this story, Susie’s motivations will change from scene-to-scene for whatever the narrative needs. At a certain point, Susie’s mom isn’t even really part of this equation anymore, despite her being a major part of Susie’s inspiration. There are also a lot of ideas that Susie Searches hints at discussing, but never fully explores. For example, Susie Searches makes a reveal in the first act that alters what we think of this character going forward, and yet, the film never quite deals with the ramifications of this choice. The film also seems like it’s just barely dipping its toe in discussing ethics in true crime journalism, but sort of realizes it doesn’t have anything to say about it and leaves that conversation out entirely.

Eventually, Susie Searches starts to feel less like a fully fleshed out narrative with consistent characters, and more like a collection of scenes with enjoyable cameos. Wolff is great as Jesse, the earnest college student who manages to be both confident and also uncomfortable in his own skin. Early on in her investigation, Susie starts to fall for Jesse, and it’s easy to understand how she could fall for this peculiar guy. Coming off Bodies Bodies Bodies, Sennott is a lot of fun as Susie’s coworker, who marks the shifting public opinion on Susie throughout the film, but through sarcastic and irritated comments. Jim Gaffigan and David Walton are also quite good as the sheriff and deputy who work at the police department that Susie volunteers at, but since this investigation is primarily Susie’s, they aren’t given quite enough to do but be tools in assisting her.

But probably the best example of Susie Searches’ strange combination of tones and ideas comes in the form of Susie’s boss Edgar, played by Ken Marino. At first, Edgar is just a bit of a weirdo who is a bit too dedicated to his job, complaining about the order in which sodas are placed in the stockroom, and overanalyzing the performance of his workers. But as Susie Searches progresses—and more importantly, as Susie’s search becomes more complicated—this character is altered as a way for the screenplay to have an out in this story as it becomes more convoluted.

As this investigation continues, we see more of the ways that Susie attempts to rationalize her behavior, and by the end of Susie Searches, the screenplay by Kargman and Frank almost warrants her lies, deceptions, and worse by proving her right even in her exaggerations. While most of this story progresses making us believe that Susie has gone too far, the film’s conclusion almost justifies her actions, as if Susie Searches can’t have its hero go completely down an unrighteous path.

Susie Searches has its heart in the right place, and this could’ve been the beginning of an interesting mystery series of sorts, full of intriguing characters, twists and turns that are hard to see coming—even for Susie. But the mishandling of tone and unusual shifts in logic and character motivations makes this film more of a mystery in itself.

Author: ultraman cosmos

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