Lost and Found
In 1980, China adopted its controversial one-child policy. Lasting 35 years before its eventual lift in 2015, this broad program of regulations and enforcements were put into place to control the size of the country’s growing population. However, China also subsequently saw a spike in the number of orphaned children, as parents favoured birthing sons over daughters.
Found is a documentary looking to examine this policy, essentially splitting its run-time into two parts. Both work in tandem with one another, painting a much larger picture of how this policy has affected both orphans and Chinese parents alike.
At the center of this movie are three American teenage girls – Sadie, Chloe and Lily. The trio soon learn that they’re distant blood-related cousins, courtesy of meeting on a website called 23andMe. Their online meet soon paves way for burning questions about their birthright and a tireless quest to find their birth parents.
Across the 90 minutes, Found hones in on each of these three families. After some introductions, the attention splits at the midway point. It’s here the girls enlist the help of a geneticist in China called Liu who sets out to try and find their birth parents. This interesting shift marks the highlight of the whole documentary, as the run-time jumps between the USA and China.
The establishing shots for both work beautifully to contrast the difference in culture between the East and West, as well as diving into more personal questions and ideas about this one-child policy.
In the West, it’s very easy for us to turn our eyebrows up at the thought of parents abandoning their kids in the street but hearing from these Chinese parents that went through this, it’s obvious that this choice was not made lightly. From teary-eyed confessions to bitter regret painted on glum faces, Found does a great job tapping into the human side of this issue that’s sometimes overlooked.
While the documentary does fail to give many meaningful answers or really tap into the wider cultural effect of this one-child policy, Found ultimately serves as a fly on the wall experience. In that respect, Netflix have produced a pretty decent watch here and there’s an undeniable desire to see these girls gain some closure by the time the final credits roll.
From a more technical standpoint, the film struggles with its musical montages that don’t always work as well as they could. There’s obviously a lot of emotion in this quest and I can’t help but feel that sometimes this would have benefited from a more tranquil, subdued soundtrack.
Despite those minor gripes, Found is well-written and undeniably emotional. This is a great fly-on-the-wall documentary, capturing the effects of the One-Child policy in China on a very personal and grounded level.
Verdict - 7.5/10