I Am Mother review: A sci-fi thriller that never justifies its grand idea

I Am Mother review:  A sci-fi thriller that never justifies its grand idea

I Am Mother, from Australian director Grant Sputore, had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival and opened to interesting reviews from all quarters. It’s a science-fiction thriller that’s both frustrating and engaging, but at the same time never fully develops its grand idea on which the premise is built. It’s set in an underground research facility where a humanoid robot (voiced by Rose Byrne) with Artificial Intelligence raises a girl to be her daughter (Clara Rugaard). Programmed to raise and preserve human race, the robot and the girl share a special bond and the events that unfold between them forms the rest of the story. Cut from the same cloth as Will Smith’s I Am Robot and Ex Machina, I Am Mother is another sci-fi thriller that fails to live up to its promise. The film reminds us that sooner or later the human race will be wiped out by AI enabled robots which can’t decide between right and wrong, especially when they’re driven to take control. The film features just three characters and the third one is played by Hilary Swank whom the daughter secretly lets into the facility after she pleads for help with a bullet wound. The daughter is both terrified and surprised to see the woman, especially after mother told her that the outside world is unfit for living as it is contaminated. The film lets us marinate in suspense and guessing till the end but never really justifies the suspense with solid twists and turns. If you take out the sci-fi angle, I Am Mother works as a solid mother-daughter bonding drama and what makes it even more exciting is that the relationship is realistic. Clara Rugaard is phenomenal in her breakthrough performance as a daughter forced to choose between two not-entirely-trustworthy maternal figures. Hilary Swank, on the other hand, is aptly cast in a role in which she is superb and makes us root for her. The film is powered by great visual effects. Be it the labs or the advanced technology that turn embryos into babies in just 24 hours; it’s refreshing to see the film use technology to elevate the viewing experience. As much as commendable it sounds as an idea, I Am Mother is not fully fleshed out and that makes it an underwhelming watch. Even though it’s fuelled by a terrific and grand core idea, it never justifies that very element that makes it unique.  


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