The award-winning writer and director, Tom Huang, is back in action with his new dramedy “Find Me.” Huang writes, directs, and stars in this film as “Joe,” a recently divorced and depressed accountant whose co-worker/best buddy, Amelia (Sara Amini) goes missing. Weeks later, Joe receives a letter from her with two words: FIND ME. Following clues she has set along the way, Joe embarks on an adventure through National Parks, allowing him to discover much more than he anticipated. “Find Me” is filled with humor, love, and most importantly, inspiration to reconnect with ourselves and nature.
Joe is the poster child for a sad sack. Working all day, helping to care for his aging father and dramatic mother, living alone, and eating dinner on the couch only to fall asleep watching mindless television is his every day existence. Poor, sweet Joe. We love him immediately. He’s wallowing in his woes while Amelia, the polar opposite of Joe, attempts to get him out of his funk. We get to know the two of them, understand their lives, and love watching them interact at work. Their silly conversations as they refer to themselves in the third person or quoting movies while deeply talking about what’s happening in their lives gives this friendship a sense of reality. They truly care about one another and we care about them.
And then one day, Joe and Amelia connect on a different level and she immediately disappears. Joe seems lost without her. He watches the days go by, texting her with no response, checking her office with no luck. Little does he know, she has already given him his first clue to finding her—“Amelia’s Easy Adventure Book.” He needs an extra push, the letter, to direct him to find her. And the adventure begins!
“Find Me” is a high-tech geocache game as Joe embarks upon a trail of breadcrumbs to find Amelia. Her plan is carefully orchestrated, introducing Joe to important people and extraordinary places, all allowing him to transform and to understand Amelia and her life better. Joe travels to unique treasures in our country such as Death Valley where he camps under the stars, The Narrows in Zion where he first connects with the grandness of his surroundings, and the cliffs in Yosemite, reminding him (and us) how remarkable Mother Nature truly is.
“Find Me” never loses sight of the humor in life and it’s a constant throughout this film. From the beginning, as we listen to the description of Joe’s trip to the Grand Canyon with his parents to the interactions he has with the hotel receptionist in Zion and the conversation with the waitress in Death Valley. Each moment is priceless as is each hike he takes, searching for Amelia’s next clue in the form of an SD card. The film, however, isn’t just a fun little romp around the Wild West. It’s a meaningful and poignant film with life lessons that will make you sigh and even shed a few tears.
Huang’s writing gives “Find Me” a unique format as this very small cast creates a very large story. While Amelia isn’t with Joe on this trip, she is there in voice and through the technology of the SD cards. She is with him every step of the way, much like the viewer feels, walking right next to Joe and experiencing the glory of the scenery. The keen eye of Cinematographer Kyle Crowell captures all of these awe-inspiring moments, adding to the indescribable peacefulness it brings to Joe and the viewer.
The entire cast is outstanding in “Find Me.” Huang and Amini are a joy to see together in their roles as they have natural chemistry. Their comfortable conversations and non-verbal communication create a naturalness not typically captured in films. Amini brings zest to Huang’s writing for her character who has wonderful working knowledge about nature. And Huang has a stellar performance as a reluctant traveler filled with a longing for more. Wearing multiple hats of both star and director can be difficult, but Huang does so effortlessly.
“Find Me” is a funny, uniquely charming, and gorgeous film that will inspire you to “be a traveler, not a tourist” in life. Go ahead and “break out of this cycle of non-existence” and find your inner self!
For more information about the film and where to see it, go to FINDME. If you’re in Chicago, “Find Me” has its world premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Wednesday, April 11 with Huang in person to answer questions after the film!