I Am Mother (2019; Netflix Original)
Review by Thad Timothy; Writer, Cult Classic Horror Show
Starring: Rose Byrne, Hillary Swank, Clara Rugaard
Directed by: Grant Sputore
Written by: Michael Lloyd Green and Grant Sputore
Director Grant Sputore makes his film debut with the stylishly sullen sci-fi thriller “I Am Mother.”
While undoubtedly influenced by the works of genre icons Ridley Scott and James Cameron, Sputore offers a new lens to familiar territory and while I Am Mother fails to reach a high level of excitement, the director’s ambition and ability is fully realized throughout.
I Am Mother tells the story of a teenage girl who is raised underground by a robot designed to repopulate the Earth following the extinction of humankind. The film opens in a high-tech underground bunker were a robot named Mother, voiced by Rose Byrne, is shown removing one of 63,000 human embryos from cryostasis and inserting it into a biomedical incubator. 24 hours later, the embryo thaws, or hatches, and “Daughter’ is born. Through a series of scenes we witness the growth of Daughter from infant to teenager under the watchful eye and tutelage of her surrogate, Mother. Raised to believe she is the only human in existence and that the air outside is contaminated, Daughter (Ruggard) spends her days learning of the fallen world through old episodes of the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and completing routine tests, both intellectual and physical, per Mother’s instructions. It isn’t until the mysterious human ‘Woman’ (Swank) arrives wounded and pleading for help outside of the bunker doors that the bond between ‘Mother’ and Daughter’ is threatened, calling into question everything Daughter was told about the world outside. As Daughter begins to investigate her surroundings and probe the robot’s nature, the truth of Mother’s greater mission is revealed.
While the premise of the film is intelligent and offers plenty of room for social commentary - how we as humans treat one other, the lies we tell our children, and the faith we put into technology – the film suffers from overly slow pacing during the second half which consequently pulls the brakes on the momentum, thus, making the story’s finale less impactful. Despite these shortcomings, I still found myself fully engaged and invested in the story. This was mostly due to the breakout performance by newcomer Clara Ruggard whose portrayal of Daughter stood out amongst her award-winning colleagues. While not a masterpiece in its class, I Am Mother is an impressive film debut from Sputore and one I believe will open bigger doors for him in the future.
I give it 3 ½ out of 5
I Am Mother will be available on Netflix on June 7, 2019
Reviewed on June, 6th, 2019