More noise than signal

I Am Mother

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

It’s another Netflix science fiction film! Wait, no, come back! It might not be another Mute, or Cloverfield Paradox, or The Titan. It might be another Annihilation, or… okay, the odds aren’t good, I admit.

In an Fallout-esque vault, a robot we’ll come to know as Mother, voiced by Rose Byrne, hatches a human eggchild, who will in the fullness of time grow up to become Clara Rugaard’s Daughter. There’s been an extinction level event of some non-specific contagion, maybe, we’re told, or alluded to, at least, and Mother seeks to raise a new generation of earthlings in the safety of the sealed vault. Daughter is the practice run, so to speak, before hatching a new batch.

As such, Daughter is being trained in the difficult areas of philosophy and empathy, and will be tested on her progress. Just for fun, you understand. Nothing sinister at all. However the equilibrium of the vault is thrown when a strange Woman appears at the door, in the shape of Hilary Swank’s, er, Woman. Look, names are a thing you can use, script.

She brings with her tales on robots ran amok, killing people, and agitates for Daughter leaving this facility immediately, and, well, I suppose the rest should be given spoiler warnings, but it’s a science fiction film with artificial intelligence. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

However, it’s a well enough written film, combined with a spiky turn from Swank, that did at least have me thinking that it might be about to be doing something a little less obvious in places, before, well, not doing that. You could perhaps argue that the rational for the AI’s action gets a fairer shake here, but it’s not moving too far away from the genre tropes.

You can draw a straight line between a few influences here, taking a bit of Moon and a lot of Ex Machina, but they’re all good wells to draw from, and I Am Mother winds up a net positive with solid performances, a decent enough story that in the end perhaps doesn’t quite fully actualise its intriguing first third set up, and some very decent production design.

It’s nothing like as intriguing as Annihilation, but it’s much closer to it in terms of quality than another Mute. So, that’s nice.