In case you’ve seen a science fiction film in your time right here on planet Earth, you’ll be able to in all probability guess the place I Am Mom, Netflix’s new sci-fi thriller, goes.
Directed by Grant Sputore, the movie begins in a repopulation heart following an extinction occasion. A robotic, known as Mom (bodily carried out by Luke Hawker and voiced by Rose Byrne), begins the repopulation course of, elevating a woman she merely calls Daughter (Clara Rugaard). Blindly trusting of her guardian, Daughter by no means questions Mom’s declare that the surface world stays too poisonous, therefore their confinement to the underground facility. That unconditional perception, nevertheless, wavers when a severely wounded stranger (Hilary Swank) arrives on the bunker doorways.
[Ed. observe: this overview comprises delicate spoilers for the film]
I Am Mom works off a blueprint that so many movies that includes robots or single-setting dramas have earlier than. It’s the “robots with emotions” facet of I, Robotic crossed with the contained nature of 10 Cloverfield Lane — it simply falls wanting both.
Hilary Swank because the wounded stranger.Netflix
As long as the scope of the movie (from a screenplay written by Michael Lloyd Inexperienced) stays small, I Am Mom maintains a pressure that ought to maintain even probably the most skeptical viewer hooked on the proceedings. As a substitute of conveying Daughter’s burgeoning doubt and the stranger’s hostility via soar scares and blunt motion sequences, a sluggish, restrained implosion makes the proceedings unsettling. On high of that, Mom’s particular motivations could also be referred to as into query, however it stays tough all through your entire movie to query her devotion to Daughter.
As I Am Mom expands into twist-laden territory, the whole lot instantly begins to really feel looser and extra unwieldy. Whereas the movie retains discovering methods to make its comparatively acquainted story arc really feel contemporary, there’s a lot motion that happens in its second half that, by necessity, it rushes via them. The little particulars — Daughter’s fascination with Johnny Carson, the infantile stickers that had been positioned on Mom by the adolescent Daughter — are probably the most hanging elements of the movie, and the film loses momentum because it leaves them behind.
Although there’s little level in bemoaning it now, I Am Mom feels just like the type of story that might have been higher served as a TV sequence. To a sure extent, the movie advantages from Sputore’s even hand, as nothing is ever over-explained and some plot factors stay comparatively mysterious. In contrast, the twists that lead as much as the ending (and appear to arrange the potential of a sequel, or a minimum of some extra granular clarification of Mom’s governing mission) are too broad to get away with that comparatively hands-off strategy.
Daughter (Clara Rugaard) surveying embryos.Netflix
Sputore’s course is powerful each time he’s trapped in suffocating areas. In a sequence that sees Daughter operating via the bunker, Sputore takes benefit of how comparable all the facility’s passageways look to create a way of continuous movement even because the pictures minimize between following Daughter and previous her as she dashes down the corridor. Daughter is aware of this bunker just like the again of her hand, camerawork creates a way of disorientation as her earlier belief in Mom comes into query.
The movie’s particular results are additionally finest when contained. Mom, given type by a sensible robotic swimsuit constructed by Weta, is at all times fully plausible (Mom’s interactions with Daughter are seamless), however the extra Daughter’s horizons develop, the more severe her environment begin to look, metaphorically and actually.
All three performances maintain the film from short-circuiting. The place Byrne is tasked with serenity, capable of detect adjustments in Daughter’s pulse and her in accordance spikes in nerves and nervousness, Swank’s efficiency lies on the reverse excessive. She’s unpredictable and messy the place the ability and Mom are sterile. Rugaard is caught between them, raised to be excellent by Mom however human nonetheless.
I Am Mom doesn’t stick the touchdown, however it’s nonetheless spectacular. The themes — humanity inflicting its personal finish, co-existence between synthetic intelligence and residing, respiration folks, post-apocalyptic bunker drama — are previous, but the execution feels contemporary by specializing in its characters and the way their particular person tics form their expertise of acquainted conditions. Just like the robotic at its heart, I Am Mom is a lean, imply, machine.