The Movie Waffler New Release Review [Netflix] - I CAME BY | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review [Netflix] - I CAME BY

i came by review
A graffiti artist makes a shocking discovery upon breaking into the home of a retired judge.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Babak Anvari

Starring: George MacKay, Hugh Bonneville, Kelly Macdonald, Percelle Ascott, Varada Sethu

i came by poster

Suspense and social commentary make for awkward bedfellows in writer/director Babak Anvari's third feature, I Came By, with both elements trying to hog the blankets and leaving a shoddily constructed narrative exposed. At its best, Anvari's film, co-written with Namsi Khan, embraces its silliness and leans into its more ludicrous elements, but at its worst it's trying to make ham-fisted points about class and race.

i came by review

George MacKay and Percelle Ascott play Toby and Jay, a pair of childhood friends who, now in their early twenties, spend their nights breaking into rich people's homes and leaving a graffiti mural bearing the message "I Came By" on the wall. They don’t steal anything from the homes, they just want to let the wealthy get the message that they have the power to screw with them. In a nice early twist, Toby is revealed to be a sham. Though he speaks with a "streef" accent, he's revealed to be from a relatively comfortable background, living with his psychiatrist mother Lizzie (Kelly Macdonald), who is constantly begging her man-child son to clean up after himself. Conversely, Toby's black friend Jay has come from a tough background but is trying to leave it behind him, having become a father to his law student girlfriend Naz's (Varada Sethu) son.

While working his day job as a tree trimmer, Jay finds himself in the plush home of retired judge Sir Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville). Deciding it would make the perfect target for a graffiti attack, he takes a photo of the home's wi-fi password and passes it on to Toby. When Naz tells Jay that she has a lot of respect for Blake due to his campaigning for immigrant rights, Jay tries to talk Toby out of breaking into the judge's home, but Toby ignores his pleas. Once inside the judge's house he makes a shocking discovery.

i came by review

I won’t get into the exact nature of that discovery, as the film teases the details throughout much of its first half. What I will say it that it plays into the classic trope of a thriller's psychopathic villain having a grudge rooted in a childhood incident. Without spoiling anything, Blake's motivations for his villainous deeds are certainly unique, if largely preposterous.

The elephant in the room here is that this thriller takes place in London, famously the world's most surveillance-heavy major city. Characters are able to get away with actions here that simply shouldn't be possible in a metropolis where you're always being simultaneously watched and recorded by a half dozen cameras. There are other moments where the police act in an unfeasibly inept manner for the benefit of the plot. Some of these can just about be forgiven, like Blake dissuading a pair of beat cops from searching his basement by mentioning how friendly he is with their commanding officer. But others just stretch the limits of your suspension of disbelief. At one point Jay is arrested for lurking in his car outside Blake's home, but it's for possession of a spliff that the cops take him in, not for the letter addressed to Blake they find on his person, which, unbelievably, they give right back to him when he's released. At several points the movie has Jay verbally state how as a young black man, the cops are out to get him, but the movie's actions completely contradict such a statement.

i came by review

If you can brush aside its various inconsistencies and leaps of logic, there is a minor bit of fun to be had with I Came By. It's mostly courtesy of Bonneville, who is genuinely creepy as the terrifying toff. He's also undeniably charming, and his ability to switch between the two modes on the turn of a dime adds to his sinister nature. I couldn't help but think what a good Hannibal Lector Bonneville might make. Elsewhere, Macdonald manages to add some genuine humanity to her one-dimensional struggling mother character, though the Scottish star still looks so young I struggled to buy her as the mother of the 30-year-old Mackay.

I Came By
 is on Netflix from August 31st.

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