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I Came By (2023)Don’t Look

A dark psychological thriller, I Came By portrays two young working-class graffiti artists who wish to taunt the most privileged and wealthiest by tagging I Came By inside their mansions while they sleep.  Toby (George McKay) and Jay (Percelle Ascott) view themselves as activists, not losers, fighting for social justice and a more equitable pay structure.  The highly respected authority of the affluent, they hope, will be questioned and unraveled by their bold trespassing into the purportedly secure, safe, and protected abodes of the elite.

One night,  while breaking into a retired judge’s mansion, Toby , without Jay, discovers a horrific situation in the basement of the house. Judge Sir Hector Blake (Hugh Bonneville of “Downton Abbey”) has a secret life.  Utterly shocked and devastated by his discovery, Toby rushes to seek comfort and support from his friend, Jay, who no longer is interested in Toby’s graffiti  and problems.  Jay has a pregnant wife, Naz (Varada Sethu)  and is in dire need of a  job to support her and the upcoming baby. Jay ignores Toby’s plea for help.

The powerful can get away with murder in plain sight.  And the esteemed Sir Hector Blake arrogantly believes that he is too powerful for the consequences ordinary members of society have to face.  His haughty malevolence wreaks havoc on the most  powerless, particularly immigrants seeking asylum, the unemployed, and the low-wage overworked.  Judge Blake literally squashes those who question his authority and status.  (He plays squash with the police chief.) He assumes his secret life will remain  unimpeachable.

Toby goes missing.  In classic “David and Goliath” form,  Toby’s mother Lizzie  (Kelly Macdonald) has to take on the institutions which ignore her  filing of a missing-person’s report.  And then the twists and turns begin: Lizzie’s  increasing fury and obsession with finding her son;  police officer Lloyd whose police chief obstructs her  arresting the judge, and Jay’s feelings of guilt and remorse for not doing more to suspport his wife and protect his friendToby; Naz’s invisibility in the eyes of her husband Jay.

The sinister, animalistic behavior of the judge signals a bitter, scathing statement about the ruling class and its influence to commit the most heinous of crimes with flagrant impunity.  The fate of the main characters are highly unexpected, even for the thriller genre,  until the very end.

Most surprising of all is Hugh Bonneville’s performance, as he plays against type:  usually the friendly lord of the manor (“Downton Abbey”) or the father figure (“Paddington Bear”).  To see his transformation into this character is astonishing.  Less so is Kelly Macdonald, as the weary single mother with a feckless son who seems beyond reach in  communication or emotion.  Except for her last scene, Macdonald’s emotional range is blunted and lacks the power of Bonneville’s.

A thrilling ride for lovers of this genre!

Availability:  Netflix 

Warning:  Violent scenes

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