Main cast: Rose Byrne (Mother), Clara Rugaard (Daughter), and Hilary Swank (The Woman)
Director: Grant Sputore
That’s right, there are only three people in the cast, four if you count Luke Hawker who is the person in Mother’s robot suit (Rose Byrne provides the voice). I Am Mother is one of those intimate sci-fi thrillers that manage to pack a powerful punch with a fundamentally simplistic story line.
In the future, humans have been wiped out. Still, there is hope. In the automated UNU-HWK Repopulation Facility, one day after the designated extinction event, everything springs to life. In the facility are 63,000 carefully stored human embryos, and a robot, simply called Mother, picks one embryo to be placed in the incubator. This embryo develops into a healthy baby girl, whom Mother simply calls Daughter. From all appearances, the robot is a pretty good mother when it comes to providing basic TLC, education, and emotional support to Daughter. However, as Daughter becomes a teenager, she begins to ask questions about the world outside the bunker (she is never allowed to leave that place, you see). Mother warns her that the world outside is inhospitable to all life. Still, when Daughter first discovers a rat and later a woman who sneaks into the bunker with a rifle, she begins to question everything Mother has taught her.
I Am Mother is well-acted and well directed. Let’s face it, when one of them is a robot and I can still buy the mother-daughter chemistry between, uh, Mother and Daughter, this movie is on to something good alright – something that is even more impressive considering that this is Grant Sputore’s directorial debut. The story is actually a simple one, but it is uncovered slowly layer by layer that, when the final scene is done and the credits begin to roll, I can only marvel at how well put together everything is. I find myself thinking about the things I’ve seen, how each puzzle piece finally falls into place by the time everything is over, and go, “Well, I’ve been played – how awesome!”
I can’t say anything too much here because this is one of those M Night Shyamalan-ish movies (in a good way, that is) in which anything could be a spoiler that ruins the movie for other people. Let me just say instead that this is easily one of the most interesting movies I’ve come across in a while, and best of all, it affects me and has me thinking about what the mother-daughter bond means, and to what extent one is willing to do a small harm to effect a greater good. I also find myself pondering for quite some time about little details in the film that turn out to be significant puzzle pieces that reveal a rather unsettling big picture, and realize that I’ve actually missed out a few glaring tell-tale clues in my second viewing, heh.
Anyway, I Am Mother – not to be confused with the all-round worthless mother! – is really worth a watch. If I have any complaints, it’s the resolution scene with the Woman – that scene has a tone that feels like it belongs in another movie altogether. Still, that’s just a small matter. If you can find this movie, do take a look at it.