Movie Assessment: I Am Mom Confronts the Technopocalypse on an Intimate Scale

The Pitch: A younger lady (Clara Rugaard) is raised in a secret lab/bunker by a maternal robotic named Mom, voiced by Rose Byrne. Based on Mom, a lethal virus has scoured humanity from the Earth, and Daughter — that’s her identify — is the one human left. When she hits these perilous teen years, the pair’s relationship is imperiled not by the onset of puberty, however by the arrival of a mysterious survivor from the floor (Hilary Swank) who claims that it was truly a swarm of killer robots that murdered all of the people — robots that simply so occur to look precisely like Mom. As tensions mount, Daughter is pressured to confront the actual fact of her existence, whereas determining who she will actually belief, if anybody.

Robotic Mothers Simply Don’t Perceive: Between the traces of I Am Mom is an existential techno-drama that principally finds the candy spot between philosophy, psychology, and pure Luddism. Daughter’s relationship with Mom is off-putting in some methods — the truth that they solely ever refer to one another as “Mom” and “Daughter” provides their scenes an appropriately uncanny edge — but it surely’s additionally a genuinely candy one. Byrne subtly conveys Mom’s real concern for Daughter’s well-being, which is current at the same time as tensions between the 2 start to rise. At one level Mom refers to Swank’s character (credited solely as “Girl”) as a “damaging affect” on her daughter, sounding extra like a real-live mother then a T-1000.

The movie makes its bones by leaning into ambiguity. As soon as confronted with the Girl’s tales of the floor, Mom instantly admits that her story concerning the illness was, in her telling, a white lie meant to guard Daughter from the reality. By getting this little bit of narrative enterprise out of the best way early, I Am Mom is ready to rapidly transfer on to extra fruitful floor. Swank’s efficiency is a key determine on this equation, because the Girl by no means as soon as looks like she’s telling Daughter the entire reality both. Because the scientific technique behind her upbringing — full with classes in utilitarianism and Kant — runs up in opposition to the gritty, hard-edged survivalism of life on the floor, Daughter is confronted with two opposing selections that appear equally flawed. Whilst Michael Lloyd Inexperienced’s screenplay (from a narrative by he and director Grant Sputore) slowly reveals its playing cards, it retains these questions open for so long as it might probably.

I Am Mom (Netflix)

Meeting-Line Imagery: One drawback that the screenplay — a former resident of the Black Listing — doesn’t fairly surmount is an inclination towards flat characterizations. That is possible the results of the film’s three most important characters being a teen raised in a take a look at tube, a robotic, and a post-apocalyptic survivor. For distinction, the characters within the equally claustrophobic 10 Cloverfield Lane have been (pretty) regular folks with lived experiences that they introduced with them into John Goodman’s happy-fun-time bunker. Each movies are knockout locked-room dramas with a paranoid, apocalyptic edge, however every reveals the totally different challenges confronted by these sorts of tales. I Am Mom will make you ponder the very nature of humankind, whereas 10 Cloverfield Lane made you query different folks.

Whereas Sputore does a bang-up job with ratcheting up the movie’s emotional stakes — the sort of work that ought to hopefully internet him future jobs — the movie can also be barely marred by its middling manufacturing design. The bunker has a generic sheen, as if chosen from a Publish-Apocalyptic-Bunker-Laboratories-R-Us. Advances in CGI have additionally created an odd no-man’s land for low-budget style movies like this one, foregrounded by a sure antiseptic polish that’s develop into a brand new visible shorthand for “B-movie.” The movie lacks any sort of signature visible model, or any particularly distinct photos that may stick with you previous the closing credit. Even Mom’s design is generically robotic, and the identical goes for her extra bloodthirsty kin, which Swank’s character refers to as “Dozers.”

The Verdict: Regardless of its sci-fi trappings, I Am Mom is basically the sort of mid-budget drama that Hollywood has stopped making, leaving retailers like Netflix to select up the slack: It favors interpersonal pressure over motion, and concepts over explosions. The movie is sweet for rather more than consuming up an idle Wednesday night time’s viewing, even when its impressions will fade for a lot of over time. What stands proud most of all is a meta-concern: For a film exploring the ramifications of know-how pondering it is aware of what’s finest for humanity, it’s ironic that the majority viewers will solely discover the movie as a result of a Netflix algorithm thinks they’ll prefer it. Like every good what-if story, I Am Mom is uncomfortably near asking “What now?”

The place’s It Taking part in? Now accessible on Netflix.

Trailer:

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