A Review of I AM MOTHER
In the Bible’s Genesis creation story, Adam is created and loved by God. They have a great relationship for it is just the two of them. God loves Adam and nurtures him, until his loneliness makes him request another human, a companion. Once God grants the request, Adam, Eve, and the Garden of Eden is never the same. This is true for the characters in I AM MOTHER, a futuristic Australian film released on Netflix. I Am Mother takes the Genesis creation myth and creates a thought provoking film that’s a slow burn, but worth every single moment.
The film opens with Mother, a robot alone in a facility. We witness Mother selecting the embryo she wishes to grow, much like the godlike figure, of deciding who will live in this disease-free zone. The facility is not only disease free, it has everything food, shelter, oxygen, workout equipment, first aid, and a beds to sleep in. It is a literal technological Eden. One can watch television shows and have access to knowledge, though the knowledge is refined and censored according to Mother.
Daughter, as she’s named in the film, is reared by Mother, from infant to teenager. There’s a series of montages that demonstrates this idyllic relationship. Much like the Genesis story, Daughter is happy with her surroundings and loves her Mother. It is paradise. It is surreal watching the human child bond with a machine. Mother displays acts of kindness and patience as a parent. She appears to be aware, and at the same time, clinically distant. This makes no difference to Daughter, as this is her Mother, the only one she’s ever known.
The film follows the narrative in that an outsider shows up. Hilary Swank’s character, Woman, appears and tempts Daughter with her humanity. And like Adam, Daughter is persuaded to allow Woman into the Garden of Eden, the facility, going against Mother’s orders. This stray into disobedience aligns with Daughter’s teenage rebel and also the fact that she’s met another human being. Daughter’s curiosity, much like Adam’s, allows her to invite Woman into their idyllic place.
Woman arrives, injured and distrustful of Mother, as Mother resembles the same droids that have wiped out humans across the planet. Woman is also injured, and this makes Daughter want to help. Like the tree of knowledge, once Daughter begins to engage with Woman, she learns forbidden knowledge about the outside world, about Mother, and about humanity. The knowledge she acquires is forbidden and not sanctioned by Mother. As the seeds of distrust are sown, Daughter is made more aware, and this forces her to fall out of favor with Mother.
As Woman and Daughter flee the facility, Daughter, equipped with new knowledge about the world outside, about Mother, and about herself, she finds it harsh, selfish, and unlike anything she expected before. Like Adam and Eve, who were banished from Eden, Daughter learns that outside the facility isn’t as glorious as she had hoped. For one, there are few humans and droids policing the areas.
The film deviates from the creation myth, in that Daughter goes back to rescue her baby brother. Once there, the final confrontation between Daughter and Mother occurs. Here, the audience learns of the bigger picture referred to throughout the film. Yet, the end result is the same as the creation myth. Daughter must populate the Earth, without the aid of her god. She’ll do so, like Adam and Eve. Expelled from paradise, no longer tethered to their god, and forced to map out their own existence.
In the end, Daughter becomes Mother, in much the same way that Eve does in Genesis. In reality, the African Eve is the mother of mankind, and we, as human beings, managed to evolve, to survive, and to thrive outside of Eden’s protectant walls.
Actors, Clara Rugaard-Larsen and Hilary Swank, provide realistic portrayals. The dark, ominous lighting of the facility changes as the character changes. It’s still sleek and futuristic, but not so much so to dampen the viewers’ verisimilitude. Overall, this film is worth a watch.