Holy shit, a Netflix original film that is actually pretty great! What is the ratio now, 15 to 1? Give it the benefit of the doubt with 10 to 1? Either way, it’s rare. And I don’t mean good film, I mean great. The good film ratio is probably more 7 to 1 or 5 to 1. But sometimes it is tough to weed through all the shit on the streaming platform before getting a gem like this one. I AM MOTHER is a little post-apocalyptic scenario film combining the plots of several films along the way but providing enough little twists to make it effectively unique. It’s all the end of the world films you’ve seen combined with the tight space enclosure that was Ex Machina. It’s just an impressive movie I think if possibly they got some up and comers and cast someone other than Hilary Swank (who used to be a Oscar champion but has since relegated herself to small independent projects), it could’ve been a huge hit at the theater. In one of those rare moments, I’m actually thanking Netflix for picking up and streaming this film to begin with. And no, this isn’t a sequel to I Am Legend, although at some part of the film I was convinced it was going to tie itself into another well known franchise (it obviously doesn’t but you can completely guess which franchise I’m thinking of halfway thru).
The film mostly takes place in this bunker like facility. At the beginning of the film, the audience is let known that an extinction level event has just taken place (it doesn’t show it, one of the films many strengths). All we heard is a bunch of nuclear like explosions going on outside and rattling said bunker. A life sized robot named Mother awakens, and takes a human embryo out in this facility because it has the capability to quickly make a little human being (24 hrs or your money back! jk, jk). Some years later, that child has grown up into a teenage girl (doesn’t say her age), which Mother cares for, feeds, teaches school and life lessons, etc. Really only one main rule, never go outside the bunker and anything that happens to maybe come in, needs to be incinerated immediately for safety’s sake of the nuclear fallout. Mother ‘sleeps’ at night and recharges her batteries. One night the girl hears some sounds coming from the front entry lock of the facility, and it is an older adult woman, played by Hilary Swank (none of these characters that we actually see have names and the ones we do hear of but never see have biblical ones). The older woman is shot and in desperate need of help. And all I’ll say next is, when these three unite, nothing is as it seems.
And that’s literally all I can say about the plot. The whole thing has little twists and turns every couple of minutes where eventually I didn’t know who to really trust until the end credits, and even after that I was questioning myself. I Am Mother also has one of the best looking robots in recent cinematic memory and also praise it for using practical means to make it come alive (male in a very elaborate suit) and only noticing a tiny amount of CGI when Mother was running ((and even that I’m not positive was CGI)). The mother is voiced by the wonderful Rose Byrne. And I understand why it was an American accent, but with this and now Modern Family, I just wish some movies would let her go back to letting her use her wonderful Aussie one. We all know Hilary Swank can act, she’s won two Oscars for God’s sake, but how does she fare here? Well, she has a lot more screen time than I thought she would, given that she is the ‘And’ celebrity on the poster and other promotional materials. There is a mystery about her character and she plays off of that very well without being too mysterious…if what I just said makes any fucking sense. She’s good is what I’m trying to say. Swank usually doesn’t phone shit in and here is no different.
The teenage girl, played by Clara Rugaard, really 21 in real life, does a great job too. The whole film is on her shoulders and she pulls off every emotion that she needs to give off in every pain staking situation she is pulled into. If her performance failed, the whole movie would’ve, but she’s tremendous here. And I won’t say whether or not you ever see outside the bunker, but I just wanted to commend the great CGI work here. It isn’t the best CGI in the world that I’ve seen, but they managed to have pretty great visuals for a film I’m assuming that was on a small budget. And I think that practical robot effects for Mother was what would make or break the film for anyone. If it was a CGI creation, I don’t know if I could’ve gotten into the film as much as I did. It makes me wonder if ‘practical effects on Mother only’ was written into the script.
I’ve never heard of the director, Grant Sputore, so I’m assuming this might be his first movie. I haven’t heard of the screenplay writer, Michael Lloyd Green, either. But what a tremendous debut if this was their first big gig and I look forward to more projects from them in the future, I just hope it is something I can watch on a big screen. Anyway, I just went into this film without seeing a trailer, because the description intrigued me, and I still haven’t watched the trailer. I suggest you do the same. I’m afraid to watch it still because I have a feeling that it will give away some of the neat little reveals in the film, I hope it doesn’t. But if the premise intrigues you, I encourage you to check it out whenever you can on Netflix. This is one of their great original films that shouldn’t be missed, especially with all the other bullshit more than half of you watch on their and consider it ‘good entertainment.’ That thought frightens me.