REVIEW: I AM MOTHER is an intriguing post-modern take on the idea of a robot apocalypse.


Wearing its influences on its sleeve, I Am Mother plays on the notion of robot apocalypse with the flavor of James Cameron’s Terminator by way of Children of Men.

By and large, the most effective and critically reviewed science fiction films of the past decade have been those that seriously approach the topics of science fiction with a grounded lens. From Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, Duncan Jones’ Moon, to Alec Garland’s Ex Machina and Annihilation, the possibility of the “what if” tends to resonate with the most ferocity with filmgoers and helps to capture the imagination. From the opening of I Am Mother, and the construction of Mother with it’s Hal 9000-ish visage, we know we’re in for a film playing into the genre in an interesting way.

The film kicks off with a bunker powering on and building a robot drone (voiced by Rose Byrne). The drone selects an embryo from a selection kept on ice and implants it in an artificial womb that accelerated its growth. After a day, the female child is born and we’re treated to a montage of the child growing and learning. The child learns ballet and comes to view the drone as its Mother. As the child reaches its teen years, Mother has become its teacher, while the child, Daughter (Clara Rugaard), grows curious and intelligent, having been told by Mother that the outside world is toxic and its up to them to repopulate the world. One day, her world view is shattered by the appearance of a woman (Hillary Swank), a survivor from the outside, who views Mother as part of a robot uprising that destroyed most of the human race, minus survivors supposedly living in mines in a world that can be lived upon after all. Daughter becomes torn in who to trust, the only other human she has ever seen, or the machine that raised her from birth.

Director Grant Sputore is heavily influenced by films like Moon, Terminator and 2001, in this film, as well as more recent fair of films like Children of Men and Ex Machina. The idea of misstrust among man and machine, as well as the nature of what is human is played very well here. Swank’s character feels like someone we should trust on the surface, but her ignorance about medicine and mistrust of humans and machines makes her as suspect as Mother, whose harsh exterior is belied by her friendly human voice and mannerism. To her credit. Ruggard’s journey to her autonomy is full of twists and turns and her trust is not earned easily, making for a compelling character study, even if the end of the film does feel somewhat heavily influenced by Children of Men.

Overall, I Am Mother is definitely worth a watch, with many intriguing twists and turns that don’t deserve to be spoiled. It’s a bit sad that a film like this may get lost in the cavernous library of Netflix, when it really is a cult classic in the making in the mold of Moon.