Title – I Am Mother (2019)
Director – Grant Sputore (feature debut)
Cast – Clara Rugaard, Hilary Swank, (voice of) Rose Byrne
Plot – A teenage girl known simply as daughter (Rugaard) is raised in a futuristic underground bunker by her robot mother (Byrne) but the duos relationship is tested when an outsider (Swank) is allowed into their facility.
“Our guest has not been entirely truthful with us daughter”
Review by Eddie on 14/06/2019
A huge hit on the black list script scene in 2016, first time feature filmmaker and Australian Grant Sputore has found himself with not only a name brand cast in the form of multiple Oscar winner Hilary Swank and the voice work of beloved Aussie actress Rose Byrne, but a giant opportunity to be seen across the globe thanks to a distribution deal with Netflix for his thinking person’s sci-fi I Am Mother.
Very much in the same vein as classic sci-fi entries such as Ex_Machina, Moon and Annhilation, Mother is one of the more impressive and polished feature debuts of recent memory, and certainly one of the most high quality Australian backed productions in some time, as Sputore explores motherly bonds, sacrifice for the greater good and of course the old time sci-fi exploration of A.I and what separates man from machine.
We’ve seen other films of this ilk before, but Sputore and writing partner Michael Lloyd Green add enough new flavour and ideas to make Mother feel like a relatively fresh sci-fi experience, that feels plausible and relatable, a sci-fi not of the far distant future but one more of the sci-now variety that feels like it could be waiting around humanity’s next corner of exploration.
The core story of the Rose Byrne voiced CGI creation of Mother, a robot charged with ensuring humanities survival in the face of a world shattering event as she raises Clara Rugaard’s teenager in an underground facility filled with human embryos, is one that allows Sputore to add heart, thrills and chills to his tale and one that is expertly played out by its main cast.
This is one of those star making vehicles, with Rugaard knocking her turn out of the park as the nameless daughter of Mother, very much similar to Alicia Vikander’s memorable turn in Ex_Machina, you can tell big things await Rugaard from here on out.
She’s ably supported by the ever reliable Swank as underground bunker outsider and potential threat Woman, whose appearance around the half way mark of the film marks a tonal change of pace for the otherwise more glacial film, that takes its time to build up Mother’s arc as a determined and focused artificially intelligent matriarch.
Unfortunately for Sputore and the film as a whole, Mother does begin to lose steam in its latter half.
After a gripping and expertly played out opening act, dwindling returns begin to make their way into the film as the run-time wears on and it feels as though as a whole, the film peters out to a more generic and emotionally unsatisfying climax, although the disappointing endgame components of the film aren’t enough to ruin what is an otherwise far above average sci-fi and locally made product.
Final Say –
I Am Mother is a must-watch for sci-fi aficionados and an extremely promising and polished debut feature from Australian filmmaker Sputore. With a career making turn for Clara Rugaard at its core, the disappointing elements of Mother’s narrative arc are not enough to stop the film from becoming one of the year’s best streaming offerings.
3 ½ furnaces out of 5