I Am Mother of Netflix is ​​a slow and tense movie about how we love and fear the AI

And it is full of surprising revelations to the end.

I Am Mother of Netflix is ​​a slow and tense movie about how we love and fear the AI

Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our short film reviews of festivals, VR previews and other special event launches. This review comes from the Sundance Film Festival of 2019. It has been updated and revised along with the release of the movie on Netflix.

When a fictitious AI "turns roguish", that often means that it is functioning exactly as expected. Tell a machine to make clips, and turn the whole world into small turns of metal. Ask him to save the planet and decide that people are the greatest threat on Earth. We dream of creating machines that are smarter, more ethical and more logical than ourselves. Then we fear where logic will take them.

I Am Mother, the debut film by Australian director Grant Sputore, follows this tradition. It is a story about the bond between mother and child, where the mother is a robot, the child was an embryo gestated artificially and is only known as a daughter, and both live in a hermetic refuge after the end of the world. I Am Mother does not exploit the potential rarity of that premise, and it is working in a widely used genre without breaking new ground. But it effectively dramatizes our perennial love-hate relationship with artificial intelligence.

This revision contains spoilers for the first sections of I Am Mother.


Highbrow science fiction thriller. The first act of I Is Mother is slow and meditative, set entirely in a sterile bunker, similar to a spaceship. It offers little background history, although the mother's AI design of the parents, based on real robots like the Boston Dynamics Atlas, is the basis of the world in the near future. The film focuses mainly on every day but mysterious routines of its characters, occasionally throwing extravagant details about their lives, such as Daughter's love for the episodes of Tonight Show of the Johnny Carson era.

However, after the first important turn of I Am Mother, the film becomes less enigmatic and more plot-based, while Daughter (Clara Rugaard) tries to discover Mother's true agenda. In the end, it's a fairly traditional sci-fi action movie.


Years after a mysterious "extinction event," a robust soft-spoken robot is known as Madre (voiced by Rose Byrne) is raising the first of a new generation of humans. Daughter has been trained in advanced engineering and medical skills, as well as the complexities of moral philosophy. She believes that the outside world is lifeless and devastated by disease, thanks to the self-destructive behavior of humans, until a wounded woman (Hilary Swank) appears in the lock of the bunker, asking for help.

The presence of the survivor shows that at least some of the stories of the Mother are lies, but the woman is cautious about the truth, which creates a conflict in which the Daughter has no idea of ​​what is true or in who to trust When the information begins to emerge, the Mother insists that the woman can not be trusted and that she has her own selfish reasons to gain the trust of the Daughter. The daughter has to navigate the conflicting stories and her own dreams of building a bigger family in the human world. Then she has to decide whether to stay with the Mother in the bunker or help the woman to escape, against the express wishes of the Mother.


How robots will probably destroy us, and we'll just have to blame ourselves. After the premiere, Sputore described I Am Mother as "largely a study of what it means to be good." Its plot depends on how artificial intelligence could interpret goodness in a world where people seem determined to become extinct, and "the robots will save that or probably accelerate it". In I Am Mother, the character of Swank escapes in the unquestionable faith of the Daughter in Mother, which is more powerful and dangerous than it seems. But the woman also justifies the mother's worries about humanity.

On a more personal level, I Am Mother is about a child who learns that father figures are not objective and infallible beings. Her best moments follow Daughter as she navigates the power struggle between two potential mothers: one that offers security and self-realization, the other that promises freedom and companionship, and both tell half-truths about their motivations.