“I Am Mother is one sci-fi film that gets it right.”
As we’ve seen before, robots with artificial intelligence will either help us succeed into the future with a peaceful existence or completely obliterate the world population for their global takeover. With the new Netflix original movie I Am Mother, it’s not so black and white as that. There is a big gray area as newcomer directory Grant Sputore graciously tells the story about a human/robot relationship. This aptly paced thriller has some wonderful original ideas that are implemented with twist and turns throughout that never sells itself short on passionate participation. This is one sci-fi film that gets it right.
Sputore was heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien film along with James Cameron’s Terminator as we meet an A.I. robot who goes by Mother, voiced by the elegant and soothing Rose Byrne. Text reads across the screen “Days Since Extinction Event: 0. Human Embryos on Site: 63,000. Current Human Occupants: 000.” This gives us the information we need that the world has ended and there are basically zero survivors we know about. Mother then pulls an embryo out and we see her methodically sit for 24 hours until the embryo is now a baby. In a creepy montage sequence set to the lovely Dumbo tune “Baby Mine”, we see this baby (known as Daughter) grow up while Mother nurtures her just as a human mother would, complete with school, arts and crafts, calming nightmares, and more.
Now, Daughter is grown up (played by the excellent new actress Clara Rugaard) where she is studying for here medical test and all seems patterned copasetic with this daughter/mother relationship. As Daughter walks through the long metal corridors with an eerie score, we are reminded of Ripley on the Nostramo, where anything can happen at any moment, which it does in the form of another human who goes by Woman (Hillary Swank). Woman is injured and desperately tries to get inside this steel structure, which Daughter allows much to the chagrin of Mother. From here, Daughter is told different stories on what actually happened on planet Earth from this newcomer who has been on the outside and the Mother who raised her, where she will have to figure out who exactly to believe to re-ignite a human population.
It’s a super suspenseful flow where more details are revealed that give light to both sides of the story. Sputore graciously keeps these characters in check and balanced with multiple layers of emotion where you can’t tell exactly who might turn to the proverbial dark side or light. It’s fascinating to watch, because you really develop a quick relationship with these characters and you are hopelessly wanting to find out the truth. The reveal is truly something special and does not hit you over the head on what it is. Instead, you’ll have to think about it quite a bit and realize how satisfying this piece of science-fiction is.
The visual effects are out of this world as well, when it comes to the robot Mother. In fact, the robot was built at Weta Workshop, which was made famous by Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. The amount of detail that went into the design, movement, and execution of this character is astonishing.
I Am Mother is a welcome addition to the sci-fi genre and if this film is anything to show from the work of newcomers Clara Rugaard and Grant Sputore, we can surely expect some excellent work from them in the future, not to mention another riveting performance by Hillary Swank, where I’d love to see more of her in genre work. Definitely check this one out.
Written by: Bryan Kluger