Sundance 2023: “The Pod Generation”

Photo by Andrij Parekh

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Parenthood is a gift that cannot be taken for granted. But it takes some self-sacrifice as well when what you are or the plans you have built for your future must be put aside, temporarily. For women, especially, pregnancy comes with a greater price where they must forget about their careers and, in some cases, become full-time parents. But what if there is an opportunity for them to retain their freedom and have science take care of the rest? Like, getting a baby without even carrying it for the entire nine months?

Set in a futuristic future of New York, Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) are enjoying the convenient lifestyle provided by technology. Nature is no longer an issue, as science and newly built machines can replace it. Rachel, who is the most brilliant mind in her company, gets a spot at the Womb Center, which offers maternity through detachable artificial wombs. In short, once the child is conceived at the Center, using their technology, the child grows in a pod that can be conveniently kept at the center, taken home or even to work. This gives both mothers and fathers an opportunity to bond with the child. Rachel is happy with the opportunity, but now she must convince her botanist husband to agree, who relies on nature and does not believe in anything artificial, especially, when it comes to pregnancy.

Written and directed by Sophie Barthes, “The Pod Generation” is a funny film with a thought-provoking concept. Even though it has a lighter approach towards parenthood, it highlights the importance of bonding parents with the child and why natural pregnancy is preferable. Not to reveal much, the outcome is always better than the steps taken to achieve it (mostly), but in this film, it is indeed a quiet war against technology and nature and what we do to not compete against one another. And that’s scary. Even though what the Womb Center offers is tremendous, it opens up opportunities for other inventions, where, imagine, a child can choose their future parent. If that’s the case, I would definitely look forward to such a storyline if Sophie Barthes decides to explore it.

That being said, “The Pod Generation” highlights the importance of technology that can free women from the burden of getting morning sickness, vascular pain or any other side effect they can get out of pregnancy. But the bonding process with the child starts in the mother’s womb. Can technology replace human emotions, love, empathy and care? Can it place that into our brain and accept the new creature as if it were our own, even though it was carried by the pod? Barthes manages to cover both sides of the coin, which is quite interesting, I hope you will enjoy it and find it interesting the way I did.

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