I Am Mother (Film Review)


As far as low-budget, one-location, three-character sci-fi films go, I Am Mother isn’t quite¬†on the level of Ex Machina, but it’s definitely close. I wanted to get that out of the way early on, because while these films do have those things in common, the similarities end there. I Am Mother is a wildly inventive and original film. Written by Michael Lloyd Green and directed by Grant Sputore (the feature-length debut for both of them), I Am Mother stars Clara Rugaard as Daughter, a young woman who has lived her entire life inside of an underground bunker, being raised solely by Mother, an artificially intelligent robot (voiced by Rose Byrne). Together, the two of them have been tasked with repopulating the earth following an extinction event that has allegedly taken place above the surface. I say allegedly because all of Daughter’s knowledge of what happened to the rest of humanity comes directly from Mother, and we quickly learn that not everything is as it seems when an unidentified woman (played by Hilary Swank) shows up at the door of their bunker with a gunshot wound. I Am Mother masterfully plays with audience loyalty and trust. We are placed squarely in the shoes of Daughter as she desperately tries to uncover the truth from two fiercely contradictory assertions about what is really going on from Mother and Woman. She doesn’t know who to believe, and neither do we, and this makes for some genuinely knife-cutting tension. This is not to say that this film doesn’t end up revealing its truths to us, it absolutely does. In fact, the latter two acts of this film are essentially one gnarly reveal after another, but because we sat so long in uncertainty, the reveals just feel so satisfying. With each new piece of information our loyalties swing back and forth with Daughter’s until the very end when everything fits together like a puzzle. And like any great twist-heavy movie, you’ll either be celebrating and bragging to your friends about how early on you called it, or holding your head in your hands in disbelief that you didn’t. This is an impressive directorial debut for Grant Sputore. The film is shot very well, and the practical and digital effects, especially considering what I have to assume to be a relatively small budget, are very impressive. Hilary Swank is great as always, but the real star here is Clara Rugaard, who gives an absolutely excellent performance as Daughter. She is a relatively new actress who was in Teen Spirit earlier this year, and only has a couple of other credits to her name on IMDB. As far as I’m concerned, after seeing this film, she is very much an actress to watch out for going forward. I Am Mother is currently streaming on Netflix, and I would highly recommend giving this a watch.