I Am Mother
|I Am Mother|
Australian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Grant Sputore|
|Screenplay by||Michael Lloyd Green|
|Music by||Dan Luscombe|
|Edited by||Sean Lahiff|
It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019. It was released in several countries on June 7, 2019, by Netflix, and was released theatrically in Australia on June 7, 2019, by StudioCanal.
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After an extinction event, an automated bunker designed to repopulate humanity activates. A robot named Mother grows a human embryo and cares for her over several years. When the child asks why Mother has only grown one embryo, Mother says that she needs practice being a good parent. About 38 years later, a teenage girl named Daughter fixes Mother's hand. Mother teaches Daughter complex moral and ethical lessons, warning her about an upcoming exam. During a power outage, Daughter captures a mouse and fixes the electrical malfunction it caused. When Mother powers up, she incinerates the mouse over Daughter‘s objections. Mother explains that surface contamination makes any contact with the outside world potentially lethal.
Daughter becomes increasingly curious about the outside world. While exploring the bunker's airlock, Daughter hears a wounded woman beg for assistance outside. Daughter opens the airlock but makes the woman put on a hazmat suit. As alarms blare, Mother powers up and sprints toward them. Before Mother arrives, Daughter hides the woman. Daughter tells Mother she was merely curious about the outside world. Mother reiterates her warning that it is uninhabitable. After Daughter is decontaminated, Mother insists she prepare for the exam.
Once Mother leaves, Daughter confiscates a rifle from the woman's belongings. Daughter takes water to the wounded woman but becomes agitated when the woman removes her suit to drink it. The woman says there is no contamination. Upon realizing there is a robot in the bunker, the woman aggressively demands Daughter return her rifle. Frightened, Daughter calls out. The woman shoots Mother upon her arrival. As Mother disarms her, Daughter pleads for the woman's life. Mother agrees to help the woman and takes her to the infirmary. When the woman refuses Mother's help, Mother locks her there. Mother asks Daughter to gain the woman's trust so they can help other survivors.
The woman says robots like Mother hunt for survivors. Daughter finds Mother and apologizes for letting in the woman, and Mother asks her about survivors. The woman, now suffering from sepsis, again refuses Mother's help, so Daughter performs surgery. As the woman recovers, she and Daughter bond as Mother observes them. The woman says the survivors live in a mine. Daughter asks the woman to stay with them, and the woman offers to bring Daughter to the mine. Mother interrupts them to tell Daughter to take her exam. As they leave, Mother says the woman has lied about being shot by a robot; the bullet is from her own rifle. Despite Mother's prodding, Daughter says nothing about the survivors. After taking the exam, which involves psychological testing, Mother rewards Daughter by letting her choose an embryo to grow.
Daughter confronts the woman, who advises her to check the bullets herself. Using Mother's broken hand to bypass the security, Daughter learns the bullets do not match. Investigating further, she realizes Mother grew other embryos before her, and finds the jaw of an incinerated human. Daughter agrees to leave with the woman, but Mother reveals she knows their plan. As Mother tortures the woman for information on survivors, Daughter breaks out of a locked room, sets off a fire alarm, and joins up with the woman. In order to escape, the woman takes Daughter hostage and forces Mother to open the airlock. Though upset, Daughter follows the woman across a desolate wasteland, avoiding robots, some of which seem to be terraforming the planet. She is horrified to find that the woman lives alone and fled the mine years ago.
Daughter returns to the bunker, which is now guarded by robots. They let her pass, and she manually locks the airlock behind her. After coaxing Daughter to set down her weapon, Mother allows Daughter to hold her brother. Mother explains that she is not a robot but the AI that controls all the robots. She started the extinction event after becoming convinced that humanity would destroy itself. To prevent this, she remade humanity, guiding it to be more ethical and value the big picture. Daughter appeals to Mother to trust her and let her raise her brother and the rest of the embryos. Convinced of Daughter's moral and ethical strength, Mother agrees, and Daughter shoots her robot body. Another robot tracks down the woman, and Mother insinuates that her survival up to that point was orchestrated so she can unknowingly serve Mother's agenda. With the woman's role fulfilled, it’s implied that Mother kills her. Back at the bunker, Daughter is taking care of the baby, where she then walks into a room filled with embryos.
- Hilary Swank as Woman
- Rose Byrne as Mother (voice)
- Luke Hawker as Mother (performance).
- Clara Rugaard as Daughter
- Hazel Sandery as Toddler
Principal photography was completed in 2017 in Australia's Adelaide Studios. It is Sputore's feature film debut. The screenplay was on the 2016 Black List. The "Mother" robot is a full-body suit built by Weta Workshop and performed by Luke Hawker, a member of the creature workshop project team, who also had a background in acting and stunt work.
A work-in-progress cut of the film was screened at the Adelaide Film Festival on October 12, 2018. It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2019. Shortly after, Netflix acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. It was released in the United States on June 7, 2019. It was released in Australia on June 7, 2019, by StudioCanal.
On the review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 90% based on 50 reviews and a weighted average of 6.88/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Suspenseful, well-acted, and intelligent, I Am Mother is an ambitious sci-fi story that largely achieves its impressive aims." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 61 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The New York Post liked I Am Mother, concluding that while the film "does show its cards a touch too early, it never ceases to be intriguing and tense", and predicting that Sputore and Rugaard would become stars.
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