Netflix’s ‘I Am Mother’ Review

Still from I Am Mother

We’ve all watched those Boston Dynamics videos haven’t we? When the robot uprising happens Imma go quisling so fast.

I knew watching this from like the earliest moments that the robot was going to be no good news, but it’s a cute mommy robot, and god damn do I relate to that image more than either of the humans that show up in this joint. They even manage to design it so soft and cute that late stage attempts to ramp up the seriousness never quite land. Everything at that point gets all ghost house in an attempt to ratchet up some tension that’s not quite earned.

Like, at two hours the thing feels way to long. While it’s measured pace is nice in conveying the monotonous nature of a life lived alone, it starts to frustrate when we’re told that shit has finally come to a point.

It’s not all in the direction, the script doesn’t have enough revelations to motivate the running time either. For too long, Clara Rugaard’s Daughter character equivocates on who to trust, the robot or the human interloper in her world — and while there’s a lot of interrogation about procedure and honesty — until the climax we’re offered scant little that allows us to question motivation or ideology. And then when it comes, it turns out that these characters actually are the exact people that one expected them to be all along.

The ending doesn’t really help it. You expect a chamber piece like this to be rooted in psychology, but a brief detour outside the sterile confines of the characters’ home neither illuminates anything new, nor sufficiently expands the scope of the world to feel worthy of the fifteen minute detour. Especially given how we hurry through a climax that feels muddled, like it was made with an endpoint in mind but fudged some of the steps to getting there.

i had to stop interacting with a friend recently because they had a propensity for saying stupid shit that I could no longer defend like, sigh. It wasn’t even all the time, because I liked them I’d do the work of interpretation on their behalf — even when the shit were half outside the realm of defence. I’d like to say that they were just speaking thoughtlessly but… I dunno.

This is a film about eugenics. Like, despite whatever else it’s got going on, you can’t really just have that subject matter sitting off to the side. I mean, it motivates the entire plot, and yet I’m not actually sure what the film’s take on it is. I mean, the story ends in a very definite place, but aesthetically it’s just a shrug punctured further by a cut away that clears up a loose end we didn’t really need to see.

It’s pretty enough though, and anything with that robot (actually a practical costume, like what?) is just compelling enough to look at to drag one to the end. But maybe I’m biased, cos I look at that smooth metallic shell and think sometimes there’s nothing I’d rather be.

I Am Mother is currently available to stream via Netflix.

Three StarsImage courtesy of Netflix


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