Grant Sputore’s debut film ‘I Am Mother’ is a science fiction thriller that circles the story between a child and her mother living in an advance bunker years after the self-destructive behavior of humans that caused their extinction. Giving a hint that the world outside the facility is no longer fit for human life. The film starts following a robot, voiced by Rose Byrne, as she chooses a gestated embryo that soon births the first human to walk on the world again. Soon the daughter, played by Clara Rugaard, grows and mother is seen teaching her lessons about philosophy and human nature, instilling values of sacrifice for many into the teenager's mind. Soon Daughter begins to express interest in the world beyond the shelter, resulting in questions about her identity. Further, into the story a strange woman, played by Hilary Swank, appears at the shelter's door having a gunshot wound. The woman’s appearance ends up throwing daggers of doubt at Daughter, caused the girl to doubt everything she knows about her identity, about Mother, and about the world beyond the doors of the shelter rebelling against Mother, sooner or later Daughter follows the woman and gets out the shelter. But what was waiting outside the shelter was only a wasteland. Soon she learns that the woman had been lying to her about the state of life outside the shelter, she realizes that they're all alone in the wasteland. In the end, she chooses the shelter and heads right back to it. Awaiting her was an army of droids and lets her enter the shelter again. After an argument with Mother, she soon allows Daughter to shoot her CPU, giving the girl power. The film ends with Daughter taking care of her brother and now having the responsibility to look over the embryos to be born. Rugaard who plays the main protagonist of the film was able to carry the story with her engaging acting. Byrne delivered great vocal performance, she was able to deliver a caring and feminine voice that made her character convincing. Swank was able to give off this vibe of a person who should and shouldn’t be trusted. Michael Lloyd Green, the screenplay writer, was able to put a twist to the common sci-fi plot of the uprising of robots. Of course, Grant Sputore for how he directed the film being his first feature he was able to captivate the viewers even with a small cast.
The film depicts a post-apocalyptic and dystopian world after the extinction of humankind caused by an AI consciousness, existing in every single droid, decided that humanity needed to start again because their destructive nature will be the cause of their extinction. This was shown throughout the film through hints but was not clearly stated. The film started by showing a title card reading ‘Days Since Extinction Event: 001’, clearly showing that the film takes place after an apocalypse. Moreover, the robot called Mother experiments in creating and raising a human that has the ‘worthy’ characteristics, to be selfless and kind, meeting the AI’s standard to better humans. Additionally, as Daughter grew up a title card now reads 'Days Since Extinction Event: 13,867', the days since extinction doesn’t match up with Daughter’s age this only says that there were children before her that didn’t meet Mother’s criteria, therefore, killing them which she soon learns when she sees the bones inside the incinerator. Daughter also learned after going through Mother’s files that she isn’t the first human created but she was the latest experiment after multiple failed attempts. This shows that the characters are also in a dystopic world where children are being killed when they don’t meet the standards. Finally, beyond the ‘repopulation facility’, a wasteland can be seen. Although life exists, such as the crops, no human can be seen walking on the surface. The outside world clearly shows a place that experienced chaos and is now abandoned.
The film was also able to give us, the viewers, a look into our ideas surrounding the thought of technology, motherhood, and what it means to be good. Firstly, technology, beyond the extremely advanced shelter in the movie an AI system can be seen controlling everything and was later learned to be the cause of extinction. AI is already a technology that is already being used, like Alexa and Siri, and is continuously being developed. AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experience and perform human-like tasks. Although it is helpful today the story showed its concept a step further. It seemed that the system was taken too far, to the point that it thought that humans weren’t living up to their full potential, wiping them off and creating another human without this trait. Secondly, is motherhood, Mother teaches and guides Daughter to be a person that exhibits selflessness and a nurturing trait. Although Mother can be seen as a good mom, a hands-on parent and even has maternal like instincts when trouble came. But there is more to motherhood than just taking care and teaching children. A parent/child relationship shouldn’t include the idea of dictating how children are born and raised to be. The natural maternal affection that humans have can never be achieved by computers. Lastly, the question of what it means to be good. From the film, there was a scene in which Mother was asking Daughter on what will she do when she could save 5 other people in sacrificing her own. This scene showed the idea that self-sacrifice is for the sake of others is the idea that Mother wants to instill in daughter. Although this is a good thought, self-sacrifice shouldn’t be a guiding principle in knowing what is good. Philosophy about the value of human life changes depending on the person and situation.
The film was also able to tackle the crisis of climate change because of humans’ destructive nature. Although not clearly stated on the type of destructiveness it can be said that it resonates with the crisis of climate change. As already known climate change is primarily the fault of humans and their carelessness. The same destructive nature causing this crisis was the reason the AI system decided to reboot humanity. Since the AI system was raised to value human life above all else, it couldn’t just watch as humanity destroy everything. The goal of making a better human, both smarter and more ethical, so that humanity would be able to flourish in a world free from their self-destructive nature. Since the movie is thought-provoking it is breathable to think that the system saw what may happen to the Earth if no action will be taken. The wasteland that can be seen might even be the doing of humans and not of the AI uprising. The film gave the idea that the destructive and careless nature of humans should be worked on before it causes our extinction.
In conclusion, the plot of having a robot repopulate the Earth after extinction and having the protagonist question everything made for an engaging story. Grant Sputore might not have a ton of movies to his name but he was able to engage the viewers to the screen. The plot of the movie was able to tackle a lot of ideas and concepts. Even though there wasn’t much to work with the whole production was able to pull it off a film that usually requires a big budget. This movie would be best suited for a mature audience because it is thought-provoking making it more enjoyable to a mature audience. The movie ‘I Am Mother’ is engaging, thrilling, and mind-boggling it is well worth a few hours of your time.