“If you want to find answers, you have to explore.”
By Tab Olsen
It’s a weird coincidence that I happened to end up watching Overcomer (2019) and Find Me (2018) in the same weekend, one in the theater and the other on Amazon Prime. Both movies are about self-discovery and not letting adversity define you. Overcomer has a devoutly Christian message of a loving Father who cares for you, while Find Me is more about wandering in the wilderness and connecting with Mother Nature.
In Find Me, a recently divorced Asian-American accountant named Joe reluctantly decides to break away from his daily routine to look for a missing co-worker, Amelia. Joe and Amelia had kind of developed a special bond while chatting at the office, but one day she just disappears. Then a few weeks later, he receives a letter from her in the mail.
Come to find out, Amelia has left clues for him of her whereabouts throughout national parks across the Western United States. So the story doubles as a travelogue and will want to make you visit Zion, Death Valley, and Yosemite. These are actually three of my favorite national parks, so it was nice to relive my travels there through this film. We even have a silver Toyota RAV4 just like the one Joe drives in the movie!
Anyway, the author wove these gorgeous natural places into a fictional drama about two characters, each with their own issues, and their attempts to help each other. Joe is the quiet, reserved one; Amelia is the outgoing one who nudges him out of his comfort zone. This movie contains a lot of references to 127 Hours, which for some reason has made Joe fearful of going out into the desert and canyon country.
Joe’s journey through the picturesque – and potentially dangerous – American West is a journey of self-discovery. As the movie progresses, we find out that it has a special meaning for Amelia as well. The moral of this story is how the “cure” for boredom and depression is to get off our duffs and find solace for our souls in nature. I could definitely see the Asian influence in the plot, like in many an anime. Worldviews aside, it’s always worthwhile to get out and do something different, for the benefit of gaining a new perspective.
Find Me was written and directed by Tom Huang, who also plays the socially awkward main character. His son in the movie is played by his son in real life. The writing is quite good for an independent film, the acting is better than amateur, and the cinematography much better than you’d expect in this kind of project – not to mention the scenery is beautiful.
Similar to Overcomer, the characters in Find Me share in silly conversations as well as serious situations (the tragedy and the comedy of life), and there are unexpected twists and turns just like real life throws at you. The pace is slow, but the plot develops steadily. As we get to know the two main characters, we realize that these are a couple of people we truly care about.
The viewer experiences everything much like Joe feels, walking right alongside him and experiencing the majesty of the scenery as he does. The “geocache” game was a fun and creative way to propel the plot. Not only did Amelia give Joe a handwritten travel guide – “Amelia’s Easy Adventure Book” – she recorded messages on SD cards which she then placed in plastic bags at various locations, which he would have to find. She kept emphasizing that these adventures were easy enough for anyone to do. (HINT: a fee-free national parks day is coming up soon, so no excuse!)
The Find Me movie is pretty tame, but it does include several totally unnecessary instances of the seemingly obligatory f-word. Also it’s implied that one of the characters sleeps with two sisters on separate occasions, but nothing is shown. And finally, I would have preferred the movie to end differently, but of course real life doesn’t always go the way we want it to either.
In comparing Overcomer and Find Me, Overcomer is a much more uplifting and inspirational movie. Find Me is a uniquely charming film, but it has a more somber tone. As for spiritual themes, Overcomer has a clear Christian message while Find Me is more understated and Zen-like. Overcomer will inspire you to strive for your personal best as a child of God. Find Me will motivate you to make a bucket list and inspire you to “be a traveler, not a tourist” in life.