Spoilers might want to break free.
It’s a movie. Yes, it’s Netflix, but that doesn’t make it less of one. I know that online streaming vs traditional cinema showings are an ongoing debate. I don’t think the choice has any moral implications. Many a movie fan will ensure to watch online streaming films on high quality TV screens. I do love cinema. It has its drawbacks, mainly other inconsiderate movie goers and additional costs of travel that make online streaming extremely attractive. However, I don’t want to judge a movie by the screen I saw it on. With that in mind, I’ve tried to watch this unbiased.
I Am Mother was directed by Grant Sputore with a screenplay by Michael Lloyd Green based on a story written by both of them. It’s a straight-up science fiction story where a girl is raised by an android. We only know them as Daughter (Clara Rugaard) and Mother (voiced by Rose Byrne and physically acted by Luke Hawker). The movie’s take on this story, one that seems undeniably familiar, but is so well done and so clean that I found it extremely irrelevant to identify the source and just watch the execution.
To the movie’s credit, it took a few minutes of hearing Rose Byrne’s soothing voice as Mother to convince me that perhaps there’s no need to seek comparison to where the idea was first developed. By the time that Daughter reaches adulthood, I was convinced I wanted to see the whole thing play through. The movie does a great job in drawing us in to the concept of accepting Mother before it starts to carefully inject little drops of doubt into the world of trust where Mother and Daughter live.
By the time that the Woman (Hilary Swank) comes in, the trust has only been slightly tested. We’ve only had but a hint that Daughter and Mother might ever mistrust each other. But the Woman is adamant on Mother being exactly the same as the killing machines that have extinguish most of humanity outside. The notion of some sort of epidemic, some apocalypse that humankind has brought onto itself is easy to accept. As Daughter contemplates the possibility of having been lied to, we sort of wonder if we should consider the same, right?
Well, not exactly. We’re jaded movie-goers who can kind of see the signs coming up ahead in this premise. There’s no way that a movie entices us with impending, ominous betrayal and doesn’t deliver. That’s not the movie’s fault, but it’s a bit of a naive concept to think we’d consider innocence or neutrality. Still, the proper execution and the clean look that we see this giant bunker and storage silo for thousands of cryogenically frozen embryos is so beautifully done that it feels like classic science fiction. I was, to a point, considering the movie might try break new ground. For the most part, it does not. What it does, it does rather well even if it’s been done before.
Now, because most people who are the audience for this film have seen a lot of stories already, we’re kinda looking for clues. I have to say I was almost embarrassed to discover a few things ahead of time. That’s not because it was shameful of me to notice, but because in doing so I robbed myself a little bit of the experience. On the other hand, I was kind of happy to discover that the movie had been careful to preserve continuity in most of its details. I’d rather not deprive you by unnecessary spoiling such clues. I’ll just say it was a sequence of events. And that is saying too much.
Highly recommended for fans of science fiction, specially the ones that yearn for that classical feel without the fantastic fairy tale elements mixed in, with only minor reservations. The reservations are as follows: your own experience watching both science fiction and horror movies might make your own mind spoil some of the reveals to the later twists. The movie thankfully does necessarily depend on these twists to give you a well executed premise and develop its characters to the end. Surprise props to Rose Byrne for providing a vocal performance full of a mother’s love, care and calculated manipulation.
That will do for now.