In I Am Mother, we find ourselves in a dystopian world where all human life has been wiped out. It’s Day 1 and Daughter (Clara Rugaard) is born from a frozen embryo. 6,000 days later, she’s a young woman taking personality exams and training to be a doctor. A robot (made by the amazing Weta Workshop) voiced by Rose Byrne is her Mother. She can show a wide range of believable emotions and can move just like humans do.
The production design is the film’s highest selling point, with its Apple-ish slickness. Its scenario isn’t that groundbreaking, but it is the way it’s executed that makes this an interesting watch. At some point, Daughter goes on a little stroll through the big bunker and decides to open the locked vault doors out of curiosity. She hears cries for help and a lost Woman (Hilary Swank) seems to have been shot and in need of care. Daughter lets her in, and soon finds out this woman isn’t really fond of droids, resulting in a violent show-off. Daughter finds herself caught in the middle of two worlds – will she stay loyal to her protector or is she too intrigued by the unknown and ready to throw everything she knows overboard?
Science-fiction has never looked better and that’s mainly because of Mother. The attention to detail is praiseworthy, as is its sound design. You can’t help but look at every corner just to see something new and innovative. Even the make up department deserves a high five. Clara Rugaard who plays Daughter, outshines Hilary Swank with ease. Her acting seems effortless and natural, reminiscent of Hailee Steinfeld.
I Am Mother is mostly about what it means to be good. It tries to show us how A.I. might try to understand kindness in a world where people only seem to want more and push themselves into extinction. Swank’s character tries to make Daughter question herself and her beliefs, and shows just how powerful an outsider can be that gives you another look at life. The film is also about parenthood and how every parent can fail at what they think is best for their child.
Australian director Grant Sputore‘s debut film gives us a dramatised look at humans and our love-hate relationship with artificial intelligence. Its thriller aspect on the back of a mysterious apocalyptic event makes it all the more interesting, when we slowly figure out what Mother’s actual intentions are.
I Am Mother is out on Netflix.
Review by Seth Eelen
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