I Am Mother
The dystopian nightmare of motherhood
By Casey Lee
In a future when all of humanity has been wiped out by a mass extinction event, a robot activates in an underground re-population facility and performs its prime directive to replenish the human species. With gestation machines and stored embryos, a Daughter is born and raised by the robotic caretaker, by switching between the right lullaby, supervising ballet lessons and instructing her in the philosophies of utilitarianism and altruism. However, as the story reaches its terminal velocity when the sole specimen of our species is well past her puberty and is expected to take her 'final exam', a human woman comes knocking outside the facilities airlock, in an environment that is supposedly inhabitable.
I Am Mother sets itself up with a sombre affair that is concerned about simulating the soulless existence after humanity's extinction, saved by intelligent foresight and robotic fail-safes. Debuting director Grant Sputore starts out on a slow and steady pace as we come to accept the future of humanity's new leash of life that starts within a controlled and regulated environment. Through the movements under the Weta designed suit, manoeuvred by motion-actor Luke Hawker and the haunting voice of Rose Byrne, the robotic Mother stands to be a icon of this age, suited to be a matriarchal force in a thriller.
But this is not an average thriller of a killer robot with trust issues. Fortunately, this Black List script from 2016 shows its smarts and subtle depths by the third act, in examining motherhood set in an extreme premise of humanity's survival. The writing takes a sharp dive into its heavier and more humanistic themes as twists are revealed and the pieces come together, leading to a climax that stumps one into philosophical contemplation on whether we can rely on our innate parental instincts to save our species.
I Am Mother stands to be one of the better outputs on Netflix in the sci-fi space, if not admissible to the theatrical greats. Nevertheless, I Am Mother is undoubtedly a well-crafted calling card for fresh names of Sputore, leading actress Clara Rugaard, and screenwriter Michael Lloyd Green, who ought to be raised into birthing new works.