I Am Mother is a Netflix original film that delves into the realm of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Directed by Grant Sputore in his feature film debut, the Australian filmmaker relies on practical effects and sets to tell this story.
A girl known only as Daughter (Clara Rugaard) is raised into her late teens by the robot Mother (voice by Rose Byrne, movements by Luke Hawker). Mother explains that humanity was wiped out by a deadly contagion, but she is preparing thousands of human embryos to one day awaken and jumpstart humanity. Daughter does not question this, though she grows lonely as the only human raised by a droid.
One day, a wounded human woman (Hillary Swank) arrives and warns Daughter that Mother is lying to her about everything, including mankind bein wiped out by sickness. The woman refuses aid from Mother and begs to for Daughter to run away with her to the “mines” where there are more humans. Daughter begins to question her robotic parent, and soon, the once sweet and benevolent Mother appears more sinister with each new discovery.
One of the most fascinating things about this film is its use of practical effects. The set is built like a robotic bunker and it adds to the overall tone of the film. The same is true of the movements of Mother. Luke Hawker does a good job of giving the robot a human flow while also highlighting its true nature as a machine. This practicality is what makes the movie so unique. While I am not on the bandwagon that wants to banish CGI from films, it is cool to see a director make use of practical effects for a movie that takes place in a sci-fi thriller.
As for the performances, Byrne is excellent as Mother. Her voice acting hits every note. When Mother needs to be compassionate, she is. When she appears methodical she is. When she appears sinister, she does a good job of exposing that. Clara Rugaard shines as Daughter. Her chemistry with Byrne in the child-parent relationship is not loving but appears symbiotic, like an organism. Likewise, Swank really stood out as the woman being caught in this world.
The one flaw in the film was the opening. It spent too much time trying to show Mother as a benevolent parent taking care of her daughter. Fortunately, it does not carry on too long.
Bottom line, this movie breaks the mold for Netflix originals. With Grant Sputore as a first time director, he proved his chops at the helm of this feature. Hopefully, this is not an anomaly, but a sign of that the streaming service will start bringing in higher quality productions.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Have I ever harmed you?
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Brief Strong Language
Check out the trailer below:
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