A lonely man travels through national parks in search of his missing friend in Tom Huang’s dramedy.
The country’s national parks are bound to get an upsurge in visitors if enough people see Tom Huang’s indie road movie. Depicting the efforts of a sad-sack accountant to track down his missing friend and colleague who has left him a series of mysterious clues about her whereabouts, Find Me features stunning footage of such locations as Zion National Park, Death Valley and Yosemite. It’s the type of film that makes you regret spending time in a dark theater instead of immediately embarking on an outdoor vacation.
Fortunately, the film offers more than just stunning vistas which would be better appreciated either in person or on IMAX screens anyway. The charmingly offbeat effort features the sort of sly, deadpan humor that quietly sneaks up on you, as well as valuable lessons about the need to get out of one’s comfort zone.
Writer/director Huang (Why Am I Doing This?) also plays the lead character of Joe, a 38-year-old corporate accountant living a drab and isolated life after a painful divorce. His chief pleasure comes from spending time with his young son and his interactions with Amelia (Sara Amini), his bubbly co-worker who tries, without success, to get him to share her love of the great outdoors. Joe will have none of it, having apparently been traumatized by a viewing of the film 127 Hours.
Amelia shows up at Joe’s door unexpectedly one night, tearfully telling him that she’s discovered her husband has been cheating on her. The ensuing encounter soon turns physical, but when Joe wakes up the next morning, he discovers that Amelia is gone. Very gone, it turns out, as she goes missing for weeks. Adding to the mystery is the discovery that she’s embezzled thousands of dollars from the company and donated it to charity.
Joe eventually receives a letter from a Utah address with a note containing the instruction “Find Me” in Amelia’s handwriting. He sets off in search of her, first encountering a hotel clerk who confirms that Amelia had stayed there and casually hands him an envelope she had told him to give to “a Chinese man.” Inside is an SD card with a video of Amelia welcoming Joe on his journey and offering additional clues about how to locate her.
Thus begins Joe’s travels through such glorious locations as Zion’s “The Narrows” and Death Valley’s Sidewinder Canyon, where he develops a newfound appreciation for the glories of nature. He also meets several interesting figures along the way, including Jordan (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), a sassy waitress who invites him to join her and some friends on an overnight camping trip to look at the Milky Way. Continuing to follow Amelia’s instructions, he eventually makes his way to a hardware store and meets her estranged sister Helena (Krizia Bajos), who reveals the reason for Amelia’s disappearance.
Joe’s frequently befuddled reactions to the people he encounters provide much of the film’s offbeat, low-key humor. While its premise is more than a little hokey, Find Me benefits from a sweetness at its core that compensates for its contrivances. Huang amusingly conveys his character’s fish-out-of-water discomfort with his deadpan performance, and Amini is so appealing in her brief screen time that you understand perfectly why Joe makes such an effort to find her.
With naturally photogenic locations such as these, the film can’t help but provide gorgeous visuals despite the obviously low budget. There are times, however, when Huang gets too carried away by the scenery, giving the proceedings more the feel of a nature travelogue than a well-told story (the overbearing pop music score doesn’t help). But in its best moments, Find Me, which features a refreshingly diverse cast, is a quirky and touching charmer.
Distributor: Indie Rights
Cast: Tom Huang, Sara Amini, Krizia Bajos, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Mike Rock, Pat Batiste, Kieth Gallucci
Director/screenwriter/editor: Tom Huang
Producers: Randy Kulina, Tom Huang
Director of photography: Kyle Crowell
Casting: Shyree Mezick