Sunday, January 15, 2023

I Came By

Movie Name:
I Came By
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Babak Anvari
Starring: Hugh Bonneville, Kelly Macdonald, Percelle Ascott, George MacKay, Franc Ashman, Varada Sethu, Yazdan Qafouri, Max Mindell, Antonio Aakeel
Genre: Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
Watch it on Netflix

Synopsis and Review
Another release hailing from Netflix, this thriller hails from writer/director Babak Anvari (who collaborated on the script with Namsi Khan), following his work on the Hulu film, "Wounds". The film focuses on a series of characters surrounding Toby Nealey, a graffiti artist with a social agenda, who breaks into homes of upper class individuals, always leaving behind his trademark, a message stating "I Came By" on their walls. His latest target is Hector Blake, a retired judge. When Toby invades his house, he discovers a pottery studio and also an imprisoned man in the basement. Shocked by his findings, he quickly reports on them to his friend and former accomplice Jay, who doesn't do much, since he has problems of his own, namely his girlfriend just found out she's pregnant. He also reports the situation to the police, who find nothing. When Toby goes back to release the man in the basement, Hector murders him and disposes of the body using the kiln he has in the studio. Toby's mom Lizzie becomes preoccupied with his lack of news, and starts following Hector since he mentioned him to her. She eventually witnesses an Iranian man escape from Hector's house, a man he had brought home and drugged with the promise of helping him secure a more permanent immigration status. Hector eventually tracks this man once again, and the allure of his position and influence, convince the young man to come back to his home, where he's killed. Lizzie desperate due to the lack of news from Toby, suspects the worse and wants Jay to help her anyway he can. He refuses to do so, due to his fear of losing his relationship with his girlfriend. Lizzie goes back to surveilling Hector, and finds a way to get inside his residence. However she doesn't realize Hector has known of her trailing all along.
"I Came By" tries to be a thriller with a conscience. A morally and socially relevant feature, one that tackles some of the injustices in modern society, how the status (and affluence) of a few gives them somewhat of a free reign when it comes to getting away with murder (in this case, literally so). Toby comes across as a slightly more intrusive and less talented version of Banksy, and while the film depicts his intentions as somewhat noble and fair, the character is never given much dimension beyond this particular aspect, the same going for all the remaining characters. The female characters in particular get a very limited and cliched perspective and characterization in this feature, oscillating between manipulative/shrill, desperate or in the case of the law enforcement one, conscientious but less than effective. The main villainous character is also never given enough room to be forceful or menacing, or for that matter, be portrayed with enough nuance and detail in which the character truly comes to life. There's some echoes here from David Fincher's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", but they're very faint and not as effective and clinical as that film. The cast tries their best with the material they have, particularly the always fantastic Hugh Bonneville and the underrated Kelly Macdonald, who both bring edginess and emotion respectively, to a film that is rather under-developed. Not a particularly memorable film.