Initially, writer-director Tom Huang’s indie drama “Find Me” is a nice movie about a nice man who accepts a challenge from a friend to follow a series of clues across various Western U.S. national parks. But as the true purpose of the quest becomes clearer, Huang raises the film’s stakes, aiming for a profundity that he can’t quite hit — though he takes a solid shot.
Huang stars as Joe Lee, a button-down corporate accountant and recent divorcé, who enjoys listening to his colleague Amelia Santiago (Sara Amini) tell stories about her outdoor adventures. Then she disappears and a few weeks later, Joe receives a letter reading only: “FIND ME.” Joe traces the message back to its return address, where he receives a video from Amelia, guiding him to his next destination.
As he hikes through glorious deserts and canyons, following Amelia’s remote directions, Joe realizes she’s urging him to open up and experience life. He also, gradually, figures out she’s hiding a dark secret.
These two elements of “Find Me” — the “shy man’s big adventure” and the “free-spirited woman isn’t being totally honest” parts — come together in ways that feel forced. Huang oversells the idea that Joe’s a deserving underdog and that Amelia’s his whimsical guardian angel by contrasting them with other characters who come across as more shrill or more selfish than they need to be.
The uplift falls flat. But as a travelogue of America’s great public lands, “Find Me” is still — for the most part — nice.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes
Playing: Starts May 31, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; also available on VOD