Saturday, June 22, 2019

I Am Mother

I Am Mother (2019)

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After a cataclysmic event wipes out humanity, a robot (Rose Byrne/Luke Hawker) is left alone in a bunker with thousands of human embryos. She raises one human child (Clara Rugaard/Hazel Sandery) as her own daughter, taking care of her and protecting her from the desolate outside world. That goes surprisingly well, until an outside person (Hilary Swank) shows up.


  • Humanity goes extinct (+1)
  • I really fucking love robots and there's a robot in the movie. Also, the robot is not CG but a guy wearing a suit designed by Weta and I think that's neat (+2)
  • Robot moms are actually a very good idea. What I imagine are the hardest parts of motherhood are incubating a fetus for nine months, and not murdering it during the first year of its life, two problems eliminated by having a robot raise the baby (+1)
  • Both Clara Rugaard as the daughter and Rose Byrne as the voice of the robot are fantastic and play off of each other really well (+1)
  • The writing, pacing, and acting from all three actresses does a great job building suspense and paranoia. Hilary Swank's character and the robot are both excellently manipulative, and their intentions remain ambiguous up until the very end, and even beyond. What exactly either character hoped to achieve is, arguably, open to interpretation (+3)
  • The real human drama of the daughter being trapped between these two enticing and dangerous mother figures is very engaging (+1)
  • The overarching themes about the inherent value of human life are interesting and fairly well explored (+1)
Total: +10


  • The kid being raised by a robot sort of reminds me of this really heinous experiment I learned about in first year psychology. The experiment went like this: baby monkeys were taken away from their mothers and raised alone in cages with two surrogate mothers, one made from wire with a bottle of milk attached, and one covered in a soft cloth with no milk. The primary findings of the experiment were that, even though the "wire mother" provided food to the baby monkeys, they actually spent more time on the soft mother. The other thing that happened is that when the monkeys grew up they were completely dysfunctional and couldn't interact properly with other monkeys. Where I'm going with that is, it's surprising to me that the daughter character could function socially when her entire life she had only interacted with a robot and old Tonight Show reruns (-1)
  • In addition to being extremely high functioning socially given her isolation, the daughter is also surprisingly blase about possible contamination given her upbringing. She is told that there is a deadly, deadly virus outside, and initially acts cautious about Hilary Swank, but later throws caution to the wind and touches her stuff. I get that this girl obviously really wanted to interact with another human, but... deadly deadly virus. One could make the argument that because she has never experienced anything from the outside world, she doesn't have a frame of reference for how dangerous it is. But then again, I've never personally experienced the bubonic plague, but I wouldn't touch anybody I thought might have it (-1)
  • Where does the food come from? There's a glimpse of some plants growing in a room at one point, and there's sooooort of an explanation at the end. But... is food brought in from the outside? If so, when does that happen? Or is food grown in the bunker? Doesn't that take a lot of work? Who does the work? (-2)
  • The bleak shots of the outside world, destroyed by human greed, are cool and all, but also kind of derivative. I get it, this is an Australian movie, you guys made Mad Max, well done, Australia (-1)
  • How the hell did a dog survive being stuck inside a shipping container for an unspecified but presumably non-trivial length of time, let alone for a decade and a half following a nuclear fallout? (-1)
  • It's disappointing to me that the daughter didn't just decide to team up with the robot. That's what I would have done. Then again, the whole point of her character is that she's supposed to have superior ethics or something and I'm a piece of shit, and I don't like that this movie made me realize that (-2)
  • Most of the twists are pretty predictable (-1)
  • That said, I wasn't really expecting the ending to turn out the way it did. That's because the characters are pretty much written into a corner and the ending that would have made sense is super depressing. So, the ending, not predictable but still a cop out. (-1)
Total: -10

Final Score: 0 thumbs up or down

Verdict: I Am Mother is a pretty solid little sci-fi horror/thriller, with an all female cast and some interesting ethical questions. It didn't blow my mind, and the plot twists were obvious, but it was definitely the best claustrophobic, paranoid, philosophical robot horror movie ever made.

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