HIDDEN ON STREAMING: 'I Am Mother'
Every week, I
say I'm going to go out and see a movie. And every week, I end up
staying in and checking out whatever the latest Netflix release is.
The streaming giant has seriously upped its game when it comes to
movies and TV shows releasing under their banner. From hilarious
romantic comedies to edge-of-your-seat thrillers, there always
seems to be something new for everybody to enjoy. But what I really
have to give Netflix props for is its sci-fi motion pictures. Their
science-fiction game has been strong with titles
like iBoy, IO - Last on
Earth, and TAU that are worth checking out.
But one that truly stands out amongst the rest is the high-concept
apocalyptic sci-fi flick I Am Mother. The film was
heavily praised at Sundance where it was scooped up by the popular
streaming platform and is now available for subscribers to enjoy in
the comfort of their own homes.
I Am Mother takes place after humanity has gone extinct. The story follows a teenage girl simply named Daughter, played by U.K. actress Clara Rugaard. Daughter is the first of a new generation of humans to be raised by a robot, whose purpose is to repopulate the planet, named Mother, voiced by Rose Byrne. After years of it just being Mother and Daughter, the pair's unique way of life is threatened when an injured stranger, portrayed by Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, arrives and shakes up their entire existence. Daughter soon begins to question everything, and she must decide who to trust -- the first human she has ever encountered, or the only being she has ever known.
In this one, the acting, story, and set pieces are out of this world, but what really has me setting this one above the competition is the believability of the movie's robot. Most of the time, it's either an animatronic delight or a CGI mess. It's also difficult for actors to react to them because they are usually tennis balls on a string or weird green screen concoctions. But luckily for the cast of I Am Mother, this was not the case. Mother is actually a sophisticated specialty robot suit, worn by a real human performer named Luke Hawker, a member of WETA's workshop who also designed the practical suit. It features more than 300 components, LED lights, animatronics, 3D printing, and model-made elements. The suit is so complicated that it takes 45-60 minutes to be bolted onto the actor. Inspired by actual robots, Mother looks so real it leaves viewers with a very unnerving feeling every time we see her sprint through the halls of the bunker at breakneck speeds, terrified at what she might do when she catches up to what she's chasing down. It's safe to assume that no one wants to turn down a dark corridor only to come face to anthropomorphized face seeing only Mother's pair of lights move in unison to form a smile.
Unlike most titles in science-fiction coming out these days, this film brilliantly uses the genre as a vessel to ask compelling questions about morality, humanity, and survival. It triumphantly takes a somewhat familiar premise and executes it to near-perfection. It is genuinely a fantastic first-time feature for filmmaker Grant Sputore, who was aided by several factors, including a game-changing screenplay, a star-making performance from Rugaard, a sharp supporting turn from Swank, and a brilliantly designed robot that instantly solidifies its status in the pantheon of classic creations within the world of sci-fi. I Am Mother not only delivers a thought-provoking narrative, but it will absolutely keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll, leaving you wanting more.