I Am Mother is now streaming on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
[Ed. Note: Being that TV and City is on a bit of a hiatus, this article has not been edited.]
The best sci-fi films are the ones that manage to blend futuristic elements with a good dose of morality and thought to provoke questions. Netflix’s latest sci-fi thriller, I Am Mother, does this really well despite falling into the trope-filled traps so many other films have before it. Thankfully, some decent acting and a few well-worked twists do enough to look past its faults and make this a sci-fi film worth checking out.
The story begins with the end of humanity as we know it. In a remote, underground bunker an intelligent robot called Mother nurtures the first human embryo, nurturing it into adulthood and preparing it for the arrival of brothers and sisters to help re-colonize the Earth. As Daughter begins questioning her life and everything she knows, her world is turned upside down when a Woman arrives at the metal doors, begging to be let in. From here, the film then begins to fall into the usual sci-fi genre conventions you’d expect but does enough to keep things interesting thanks to a few well-placed plot twists.
I Am Mother borrows some concepts from both Ex-Machina and I Am Robot, asking big questions around A.I. and its potential ability to show compassion and love. It’s an interesting idea for sure, and although not wholly original in design, the execution here is surprisingly good. One scene late on sees Daughter’s life hanging in the balance and the delayed reactions from Mother over how to help her do a great job depicting this internal struggle. It’s a small touch but one that really helps hammer home the overall themes running throughout the film.
As the setting changes late on, so too does the filming techniques used. Early on, a lot of the scenes feel very claustrophobic and close, with plenty of medium and close-up shots reinforcing that suffocating feeling. As the film progresses, so too does the camera work, making way for longer, bigger establishing shots. Not only does this help see more of the world it also reinforces Daughter’s enhanced perception of the world.
I Am Mother is not a genre-defining film though, nor does it offer anything original that hasn’t been done before. Plot twists aside, most of the story plays out in a relatively straight forward manner, with the usual dread-inducing, tense moments peppered throughout the picture. Despite this, I Am Mother is a surprisingly compelling watch, one that certainly asks some big questions, even if the answers leave some plot holes and questions remaining when the credits roll. If you’re a fan of sci-fi films, I Am Mother is well worth a watch and certainly one of the better Original offerings Netflix have in their growing catalog.
I give I Am Mother a B-.