Reviews: ‘I Came By,’ ‘Love within the Villa’ and ‘Surrogate’

‘I Came By’

The “Downton Abbey” and “Paddington” star Hugh Bonneville performs in opposition to sort in “I Came By,” a twisty suspense movie barbed with social commentary. Bonneville stars as Sir Hector Blake, a retired decide with a status for equity and empathy. When an activist graffiti artist named Toby (George MacKay) breaks into Blake’s stately dwelling — as a part of an ongoing artwork mission to make the rich really feel unsafe — the tagger discovers one thing disturbing within the previous man’s basement.

Co-written and directed by Babak Anvari — a British-Iranian filmmaker whose “Under the Shadow” and “Wounds” have proven a knack for mixing style thrills with complicated character research — “I Came By” often modifications focus, following completely different folks. Kelly Macdonald performs Toby’s mother Lizzie, a counselor who regrets dropping observe of her son’s life. Percelle Ascott performs Jay, Toby’s occasional accomplice in crime, who’s making an attempt to calm down along with his new spouse and child. And Franc Ashman performs police detective Ella Lloyd, who finds it onerous to nail Blake due to his highly effective connections.

This narrative diffusion retains “I Came By” unpredictable, because it’s unimaginable to know who Anvari and his co-writer Namsi Khan will shift to subsequent. However it might additionally make the film really feel much less taut than a thriller needs to be. The story by no means builds momentum.

That mentioned, each time the power begins to flag, Anvari can at all times come again to Bonneville, who’s magnificently oily as Blake: a person who has satisfied the world he’s a pleasant man, although now and again the masks slips and we see the anger and bigotry effervescent beneath. The stress in “I Came By” is much less about no matter horrible issues Blake might have finished — or may nonetheless do — however extra a couple of ruling class whose outward projection of sophistication and benevolence permits them to get away with homicide.

‘I Came By.’ TV-MA, for violence, language and smoking. 1 hour, 50 minutes. Out there on Netflix

Kat Graham and Tom Hopper within the film “Love In The Villa.”

(Riccardo Ghilardi/Netflix)

‘Love in the Villa’

Stale romantic comedy formulation flatten “Love in the Villa,” an Italian-set crowd-pleaser that lurches between charming and blah. The movie’s major asset (past its attractive Verona setting) is the robust chemistry between the 2 leads: Kat Graham, who performs a detail-oriented, Italy-obsessed Minneapolis grade faculty trainer named Julie; and Tom Hopper, who performs a smug, cynical British wine dealer named Charlie. When these two are by accident booked into the identical rental property, they reluctantly conform to share the area — after which begin scheming to drive one another out.

Journeyman writer-director Mark Steven Johnson is sensible sufficient to let this warfare of attrition — and the inevitable detente and romance — play out over a great lengthy stretch in the course of his film. It is a enjoyable technique to get to know these two characters, as Julie comes up with pranks that work in opposition to Charlie’s self-importance whereas Charlie tries to puncture Julie’s delight. The 2 have to know one another to harm one another.

However an excessive amount of of “Love on the Villa” is off-the-rack rom-com enterprise, not that completely different from what’s on the Hallmark Channel 24 hours a day. She’s a romantic who actually solely is aware of about life from books; he’s a coldhearted businessman who misses the wonders of the world round him; they each have absent companions who don’t actually recognize them, et cetera. Julie and Charlie make a profitable couple, which matches a great distance towards making “Love on the Villa” watchable. However they’re so boxed-in by the film’s clichés, their love affair not often will get the prospect to breathe.

‘Love in the Villa.’ TV-14, for language. 1 hour, 55 minutes. Out there on Netflix

‘Surrogate’

A single mom endures nightmares each paranormal and private in “Surrogate,” a cleverly creepy Australian horror-mystery from writer-director David Prepared, co-written with Beth King. Kestie Morassi performs Natalie, a nurse who after a disturbing encounter with a mentally in poor health affected person sees her life turned upside-down — virtually as if the affected person contaminated her with a free-floating evil, “It Follows”-style. The disaster begins when Natalie wakes up bleeding profusely, in what the medical doctors assume is a miscarriage … though there’s no signal of a fetus. Quickly after, Natalie’s daughter Rose (Taysha Farrugia) begins getting bodily attacked by the ghost of a younger lady.

“Surrogate” is partly concerning the irritating technique of Natalie making an attempt to determine what’s taking place to her household. Prepared and King give their heroine a break by having her run into Ava (Ellie Stewart), a teen whose capability to speak with spirits helps pace up the investigation. However additionally they torment Natalie by saddling her with Lauren (Jane Badler), a baby companies officer satisfied she’s abusing Rose.

The supernatural horror components in “Surrogate” are pretty efficient, although dulled a bit by the film’s low funds — and likewise by how frequent mysterious hauntings and spooky youngsters are in films. What actually will get beneath the viewer’s pores and skin in “Surrogate” is Natalie’s specific predicament — well-played by Morassi — of a mother or father who proper all the way down to the movie’s surprising ending feels pushed previous her limits, judged by others for troubles she didn’t invite and might’t clarify.

‘Surrogate.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 31 minutes. Out there on Amazon TVOD

‘One Way’

The crime drama “One Way” begins with a small-time hood named Freddie (Colson Baker, a.ok.a. rapper Machine Gun Kelly) stealing cash from the mob and hopping onto a bus winding by way of south Georgia and north Florida, whereas slowly bleeding out from a gunshot wound. As he rolls by way of the night time towards an unsure destiny, Freddie will get on the cellphone, calling anybody who may assist: his crooked dad (Kevin Bacon), his ex, Christine (Meagan Holder), who can also be a nurse, and even his livid boss Vic (Drea de Matteo). He additionally befriends one other passenger, Rachel (Storm Reid), a troubled teen whom Freddie decides to attempt to save, as one final act of penance in case he dies.

There are some items of “One Way” that work properly. Baker is a convincing lowlife, his supporting solid is excellent, and the composer Raffertie’s distorted electrical guitar rating brings an edgy power. However regardless of director Andrew Baird’s greatest efforts, this film — written by Ben Conway — nonetheless principally consists of a man making cellphone calls on a darkish bus. Though Baird reveals what’s taking place on the opposite finish of these calls, the motion stays largely static. The movie is a case research in why critics say “show, don’t tell.” It’s 90 minutes of individuals speaking about routine gangster stuff, peppered with occasional gunfire.

‘One Way.’ R, for pervasive language, violence, and drug use. 1 hour, 35 minutes. Out there on VOD

‘Mister Limbo’

It’s onerous to pin down the style for writer-director Robert G. Putka’s partly comedian, partly surreal art-film “Mister Limbo” — although it bears some resemblance to absurdist theater workouts from the Nineteen Fifties and ‘60s. Hugo de Sousa plays an everyman who wakes up one day in a desert, unsure of how he got there or who he is. After trying to use a payphone jutting out of the barren landscape, our hero runs into another lost soul (Vig Norris), who also can’t keep in mind a lot about his pre-desert life — however who does recall so much concerning the TV collection “The 4400.” These two guys then wander by way of the desolation, pondering whether or not they’re in heaven, hell or some place else.

When the duo sometimes runs into different folks, they’ve elliptical conversations concerning the which means of existence and what it takes to be “good.” That is all so very esoteric that it by no means absolutely connects. However the actors are free and humorous; and the general tone of “Mister Limbo” is amiable. This sort of film can simply change into ponderous and pretentious, however Putka retains all the pieces vast open, within the spirit of his befuddled protagonists.

‘Mister Limbo.’ Not rated. 1 hour, 35 minutes. Out there on VOD

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A black-and-white image of two young men in a field from the documentary “Faya Dayi.”

A picture from the documentary “Faya Dayi.”

(Janus Movies)

“Faya Dayi” is likely one of the most visually lovely documentaries of latest years: a hypnotic black-and-white research of Ethiopian communities that harvest and promote (and infrequently devour) a euphoria-inducing plant known as khat. Director Jessica Beshir explores the tradition and politics of the area, however primarily permits the viewer to really feel the results of the drug, by way of sequences which might be rhythmic and hazy. The Criterion version of “Faya Dayi” consists of some early Beshir quick movies and a commentary observe. Criterion