I Came By (2022): Twists and Turns, but Many Lost Threads

Netflix has published a slew of new films recently and at the time of writing this, I Came By, a film written and directed by Babak Anvari is #4 in movies today. If you’re like me, you love a good thriller, but you’re skeptical of Netflix’s in-house roster, so I figured I’d give the film a view and let you know if it’s worth watching. This is a film that I figured would be pretty obvious and simplistic, but I found myself enjoying how it often subverted my expectations of what was to come next.  

Toby (George MacKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott) play a duo of graffiti artists who break into the homes of the rich and bomb their home with graffiti art reading “I Came By”. The film starts with would be the last home they’d hit together. Jay just discovered he’s going to become a father and he wants to put this whole thing behind him to mature for his future family. Toby, on the other hand, gets a great sense of worth from vandalizing the homes of the rich as he’s otherwise aspiring towards nothing. His mother, (Kelly Macdonald) is a therapist who is disappointed with the fact that Toby hasn’t been able to get his act together and find purpose in his life. Little does she know, Toby made a grave discovery in the basement of one his target’s homes that will change everything. The target, a retired judge named Hector Blake (Hugh Bonniville), is a champion of the marginalized in his public life, but the secrets he keeps, both in his basement and out make it clear he is anything but.  

I won’t spoil the particulars of this film, but this film does a good job of portraying a villainous character who maintains a place in society where he is often seen as inherently trustworthy and admirable. Hector Blake carries a deep resentment towards the people whom he claims to advocate for, but hides it quite well. As a person of color, it reminded me of the people I’ve known in my life who publicly affirm certain groups while privately resenting and abusing them. The film touches on the position many immigrants are often in where very powerful people are allowed to do heinous things to them that will go unaddressed because of the power and influence of people who commit these crimes and the fact that coming to the cops may end in deportation. Especially for refugees, that can be a very terrifying threat.  

I’ll be blunt with you. I enjoyed many of the aspects of this film, but collectively, I’m not so sure. The motivations for many of the characters are a bit unclear. We understand why Hector Blake does what he does, but we really don’t understand why Toby and Jay graffiti. We understand why Toby found purpose in trying to save the life of another, but we don’t understand why exactly he feels so aimless in life. We understand that Toby and Jay are friends, but we don’t understand why their friendship is so strong that Jay is willing to risk his life. We know why Toby’s mother would desperately search for him, but we don’t really understand why she would confront Blake head-on. All of these missing pieces left me feeling a bit hollow about the film. I enjoyed how the narration switched from characters and, again, I enjoyed how the film subverted some of our assumptions of how this would go, but at the end of the day, an end that should have satisfied me left me with more questions. A lot of the questions were left unanswered and while I’m a fan of ambiguity, I’m a bit confused by why they weren’t addressed.  In many ways, the film felt rushed and incomplete.

So ultimately, while I don’t think this is the worst movie in the world, I also don’t exactly feel confident about suggesting it to you. So for this film, I’m gonna say Skip it. 

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