Title: I Am Mother
Director: Grant Sputore
Starring: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank
Runtime: 1hr 53min
What It Is: Immediately following the apparent extinction of the human race, a droid called “Mother” (Byrne) raises Daughter (Rugaard) into an intelligent, cautious, and caring teenager in a high-tech bunker. Events lead Daughter to confusion about the state of the outside world, the last straw being when a wounded woman (Swank) arrives in need of medical assitance. Her doubt in her caretaker growing, Daughter becomes determined to find the Mother’s true intentions after realizing the robot is hiding larger secrets of its own.
What We Think: Let’s start with the technical stuff. It’s a nice-looking film, with pretty believable special effects, fun, atmospheric sets, and overall good production design. The design and performance of Mother, both vocal and physical, were spot-on: Byrne handled the sensitve and intelligent Mother with incredible nuance while Luke Hawker delivered the motion capture with strength to the point of being really intimidating. Mother can run a little too fast for comfort: which is another fair point to the film is that it juggles both the creepy and uncanny yet somewhat compelling aspects on the aretaker-assigned AI very well. The atmosphere surrounding the robot parallels the story, functioning as not only a Black-Mirror-eqsue sci-fi suspence, but is just as well a tense and mysterious thriller keeping you guessing throughout at least half of the film. That much is credible. On the other hand, the story is very slow-paced and the woman, the one out of two human characters, was pretty stagnant through most of the film and never had an arc. She had moments of great emotion (Swank was pretty good, as always), but she felt more like a plot mechanic than anything else. It’s strength is definitely in its mechanical centerpiece but focuses a little too much on being an origin story when it features a payoff that left me feeling dry: I cannot say it was all entirely memorable at all.
Our Grade: C, In the end, this Netflix flick had a first act that gave way to a potential as a cool sci-fi mystery/thriller with a philosophical side but ended up being too predictable and even cliche for its own good. A great setup and a sort of sterile payoff, the films slow pacing, weak plot points, and mumbling at times (wear headphones) make for a movie with an interesting concept but otherwise left me feeling pretty dull, listless, and a little disappointed. I don’t think I’m interested to ever watch it again. But hey: at least the robot’s cool.