I am Mother [2019]

“Contrary to your understandable assumptions, my primary directive is to care for humanity.”


Thanks to everyone who came to the February WATCHERS club! We watched this gem of a film.

The film, directed by Grant Sputore, centres on the life of a young child, brought up in a special unit by a robot. There are no other humans and we’re told that humanity did not survive a cataclysmic event – the details of which are murky. We are shown the child’s test-tube birth, its development in toddler-hood and soon teen-dom as both the child and its carer goes about their lives and routines. The robot, which the kiddo calls ‘Mother’ appears to care for the kid deeply. Then enters Hilary Swank’s character, ‘woman’, and she disrupts their happy existence.

I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t say anything more beyond the above regarding the plot. This is an excellent film. It’s well shot, very well written and had me thinking for days after I had seen it.

There are no names given to the characters beyond their descriptive names: child/mother/woman. In a post-apocalyptic world, it seems apt to strip the characters of identity and instead replace them with human roles. I think if the robot had been referred to directly as MX-123 or something by the child it would have been way easier to distrust from the beginning.

Throughout, the film was very tense.. so tense you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. I felt distrust but did not really know who to aim that distrust towards. I knew one thing for certain, and that was that the child was a total innocent and I think having the shots showing her grow up in front of my eyes lended itself to this impression, added by the nostalgic “Baby Mine” playing as she grew (aka the song Dumbo’s mum sings to him)… but I couldn’t shake this feeling that someone was evil, that something wasn’t right. I wanted to believe the robot was evil, which is the norm right? So when the ‘woman’ came into the scene I was like ‘aha, the woman is the virtuous one; this confirms my bias’ and then later I was like ‘wait a minute, maybe the woman is the one I shouldn’t trust’… It was an emotional rollercoaster.

Later you are presented with a catch-22 – which I won’t spoil – which left me very conflicted. I couldn’t really say I would have done something different given the circumstances. But maybe if you see someone has destructive tendencies, is the most caring thing to give them a gun?

So all in all, brooding excellent atmosphere, simple and thought-provoking story. Cinematography of the film was really good including the expressive look and sound of the robot. I feel like the smooth, motherly voice given to the robot was juxtaposed with the harsh, cold, squared off look of the robot. I liked that everything about the film was designed to make you feel uncomfortable and it absolutely succeeded in that. There were some WTF twists I totally didn’t see coming and was totally floored by. Very enjoyable. Would 100% recommend watching this film.

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