Your weekly streaming pick is I Am Mother. This Netflix Original is a very well done, and very expensive looking, Science Fiction movie. Screenplay by Michael Lloyd Green. Starring Rose Byrne, Clara Rugaard, and Hilary Swank.
The haunting opening brings us into a secure installation with some stats. One day since the extinction event. 63,000 human embryos. Zero human beings. Mother (motion by Luke Hawker, voice by Rose Byrne) takes one of the embryo’s and brings a baby into the world. We’re given a segment of Child (ultimately Clara Rugaard) through the years. As Child becomes aware of the world around her we get glimpses into her life. Her education and connection to humanity through old TV shows.
The first thing you’ll notice about I Am Mother is that it’s gorgeous. It’s not a budget sci-fi movie. It looks perfect and expensive. Money spent doesn’t always mean quality. Having the set and costuming being on point rounds out the movie. Having one of the main characters looking and feeling so complete and real sell the movie.
With a minimal amount of sets it’s nice to see the attention to detail and the fleshing out of Child’s world. When she questions that world you can appreciate the details on things even more.
A lot hinges on the character, Mother. Mother is the co-lead of the movie. As you’re watching the movie you can look all you want to see the seams or the proverbial strings. They aren’t there. The robot interacts with the world and Child like any other actor would. There’s even a great moment where Mother leans into a run. The small cinematic could look clunky and a bit cheap. Lesser effects wouldn’t make the movie unwatchable but being as spot on as they are is a great treat.
I Am Mother is a Netflix Original
The official synopsis and trailer give you intrigue without spoiling the plot. Another welcome surprise. Around the thirty minute mark I Am Mother slaps you with a great twist. As this somewhat predictable plot point unfolds we realize the initial surprise was the tip of the iceberg. I actually had a moment where my mind flashed thinking the movie broke a cardinal rule. Not lying to the audience. Then I realized they gave me the correct information and where my mind took it is my own problem.
For characters with no unique names there is a fair amount of humanity to them. Child is curious about the outside world in her rebellious teenage years. We know she knows of the outside world, of her lost people, and how human interaction works through watching old TV. Primarily she’s shown watching Carson but it’s safe to assume her library went beyond there. With only six credits on her acting resume Rugaard may not be a young actor you recognize. After her turn in this I’ll be surprised if she has a hard time finding the next project.
Even Mother, as a droid (I thought Lucasfilm owned this word?), had her desires and goals. She truly loved Child, not in a way limited by programming but as a Mother loves a child. She is faced with difficult choices and deception for what she believes is the child’s own good. It’s a thrilling dynamic as we sit on the cusp of AI.
Without wading into spoiler territory I have to say that Hilary Swank is an incredible talent. Why isn’t she in more movies?
I Am Mother is a strong story that walks the line between science fiction and thriller. The cast is small but has a lot of talent. The sets are gorgeous and the creation of Mother itself is incredible. Check out this movie that further removes the stipulation of movies not getting a theatrical release being lesser.