With I Am Mother Debut Writer and Director Grant Sputore’s Sci Fi offering tackles big ideas with a small budget. Set in a post-apocalyptic ‘re-population’ facility, a teenage girl is raised by a robot “mother” until a stranger interrupts their unique bond.
In the tradition of Ex Machina (2014) and 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), I Am Mother (2019) narrows the scope of storytelling in order to explore wider themes, utilising a minimal cast and primarily interior shots to get its messages across.
Despite appearances, I Am Mother is actually as much a coming of age tale as a high concept Science Fiction story. For all its twists and turns the tension is derived primarily from the jeopardy in which our young female lead is cast after the arrival of the stranger. To this end, the film offers up an interesting take on the concept of the other, with this role filled in turn by the human stranger and the familiar but strange robot Mother.
Yet there is an inescapable feeling that the tension is sacrificed for plot twist after plot twist, perhaps down to an issue with pacing and there’s a sense that after a lingering first act, the final third seems rushed. Much of the action feels unnecessary and doesn’t serve at all to ratchet up the tension.
Still for all its flaws, I Am Mother is recommended viewing for anyone who is interested in a different take on well-worn Sci Fi tropes. It is a film of big ideas that works best during its slowest moments. It is also one of too few movies to easily pass the Bechdel test*.
*The criteria being:
- The movie has to have at least two women in it
- who talk to each other,
- about something besides a man