Netflix’s I Am Mother is a beautifully acted and stylish sci-fi

I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center
I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center /

On the surface, Netflix’s I Am Mother is a beautifully acted, stylish sci-fi masterpiece, but it struggles to evolve into what it was meant to be.

I Am Mother takes place sometime in the far future after a catastrophic event wipes out all of humanity. The only human alive now lives with a droid, but she isn’t an ordinary human. The robot activated her as an embryo in a lab inside their underground bunker. Unlike a regular pregnancy, embryos only take 24 hours to develop into a baby.

We watch the baby grow to a toddler, young girl, and into her teens. She is wise beyond her years and capable of performing small surgeries. She’s only known as “Daughter” (Clara Rugaard) and her robot mom as “Mother” (voiced by Rose Byrne).

The entire time, we see their relationship as beautiful. It’s peculiar, sure, but if you can ignore the fact that this is a robot we’re watching, it’s a typical loving relationship between a young woman and her caring mom. Soon, however, we notice the rebellious teen years kick in and the dynamic between the two starts to drift.

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It doesn’t help the already complex relationship that a rat sneaks inside, causing Daughter to wonder if life outside of their shelter is now a possibility. Mother doesn’t hesitate to incinerate the unwanted guest, and it’s during this moment that we snap back to reality and realize Mother isn’t human.

As a parent, even if our order is strict NO, we pause, at least briefly, to consider our child’s feelings and how to best proceed in the situation. But for Mother, Daughter’s feelings are not her first or second priority. Mother’s decision is made, never for a millisecond does she stop to address her child’s distress or consider how much the girl is begging for the rodent’s life.

It’s the first time audiences ask themselves if Mother truly has any feelings or is simply operating on programmed orders. Is it even capable of emotions?

I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center
I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center /

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The rodent may not have been able to tell Daughter much, but another human sure can. Knocking at the door is a wounded woman by the name of – just kidding, she has no name, of course, so we’ll just call her Woman (Hilary Swank).

I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center
I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center /

Daughter has never seen another human in the flesh before, dozens of questions are racing through her young mind. Mainly – how is this woman still alive when the air is supposed to be toxic? Mother has some questions she needs to answer!

According to Woman, the only dangers outside of the bunker are more droids. She claims that her injury is from one of the robots attacking her. Mother would never hurt her, though, right? Or is Mother the only nice robot out there?

The suspense rapidly builds up, and we go back and forth between believing Mother and Woman. Because even Woman is super secretive.

The movie has more than one twist up its sleeve, though. In the end, much will be left up to the viewer’s interpretation, which makes Netflix the perfect platform for the film so you’re allowed many viewings.

The heart of the movie is Rugaard, who gives a striking performance as the conflicted Daughter and delivers a lot of emotion. Despite growing in a lab, Daughter features human curiosity and stubbornness to learn the truth. She also tests her limits with Mother, because teenagers will be teenagers.

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I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center
I Am Mother on Netflix via Media Center /

I Am Mother is Grant Sputore’s feature film debut, and it’s not an easy genre to tackle for a first major project. Watching the film develop, it appears there is room to expand and truly stretch out all of its ideas. The small budget, independent movie instead does what it can to wrap it up.

Never does it feel rushed, though. And even if you are disappointed by the finished product, I Am Mother is able to hold on to your curiosity throughout the movie. It’s a very tense thriller and one of the strongest additions to Netflix’s lineup.

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When Rugaard isn’t stealing our hearts, the tech visuals are taking our breath away. If Sputore can stretch a budget this far for I Am Mother, I can’t wait to see what’s to come from him when he tackles a big budget.

I Am Mother is now streaming on Netflix.