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Sundance 2019 Film Review: “I am Mother” (2019) ★★★★★


We human beings like to invent new technologies, come up with something extraordinary to change the world, but not necessarily for the better. We do consider ourselves as gentle and kind human beings. But are we really? The right question is, what would we do if we get a second chance to exist? Would we be better or stay the same – selfish and predictable species? While there are many good answers to this, “I Am Mother” gives a very philosophical look into why we deserve no second chance.

Set in a dystopian future, the population of our planet is zero after the extinction of humankind. Only droids now exist. A kind and considerate robot (voiced by Rose Byrne) creates a child from a human embryo to turn into the perfect human. Their unique relationship is shattered when a teenage girl (Clara Rugaard) receives contradicting news from a stranger who she lets into their highly advanced facility protected from the outside world.

“Mother needs to learn to raise a good child. This is not an easy task,” is what the Robot Mother says to her daughter when asked why would she not make more children. Indeed, raising a child is an art, and the robot does everything possible so the human is given all her time, making it the most deserving representative of the planet. So far what we know is that there is no world existing outside of their underground bunker and that the robot was created by humans and meant to get activated if something bad happens to the planet so that humans can have a second chance.

As Mother Robot does an amazing job by guarding her daughter from certain facts, the same facts she tried to held back from her breaks into their facility in the face of a wounded woman (Hilary Swank) who begins messing with the Daughter’s mind, telling her about the outside world, things she knew nothing about. Now as the battle begins between the truth and the truth that must remain a secret, the three find themselves in three different situations – a Mother who should protect her daughter at any cost, the outside woman with an agenda we are yet to learn about, and the Daughter driven by curiosity who wants to uncover more about the world she does not know how it looks like in reality.

“I Am Mother” written by Michael Lloyd Green and directed by Grant Sputore  is a surprisingly intelligent sci-fi drama that explores an intimate relationship between humans and robots. For instance, in certain scenes, we find that the Robot or Mother has more compassion than any other human being, and you will be deeply touched seeing that. Of course, over the course of the film, there will be a lot happening, but mostly between the three leading stars – Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard and the Robot voiced by Rose Byrne. As we watch the dynamic between Mother and the Daughter, it would not get any better, and even then the alarming situation would require the robot to reconsider her attitude towards humans she hopes to correct over time.

In conclusion, there’s a lot we can take away from the highly recommended “I Am Mother” that loves people more than it probably should. It manages to cover many topics within one film such as selfishness, self-protection, the purpose of a mother, the purpose of being a human being, or just being someone who we all can endlessly admire. But towards the end of the film, it becomes obvious we humans not only do not deserve second chances but that nothing can repair our damaged personality, the love for self-destruction, and thinking of no one else but ourselves. Indeed, there’s hope in this film for us to redeem ourselves, but as far as it concerns the entire concept of “I Am Mother”, it is highly unlikely to happen.

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