Saturday, October 23, 2021

I AM MOTHER Movie Review

There are only two human characters in this dystopian, futuristic film that presumes the world would one day be extinct of all feelings, except the maternal. I AM MOTHER is a netflix film is directed by Clara Rugaard. The film stars Clara Rugaard and Hilary Swank in lead roles.

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There are only two human characters in this dystopian, futuristic film that presumes the world would one day be extinct of all feelings, except the maternal. That’s a sturdy premise to build an emotional sci-fi upon. However, the brittle plot snaps in vital places showing the fissures and gaps in any argument that presumes the human race to be hurtling towards self-destruction.

I AM MOTHER wants to go gently into the (tormented) night. The relationship between the ‘daughter’ (21-year-old Danish actress Clara Rugaard pulling off a much younger character) and the robot ‘mother’ (speaking in the nurturing voice of Rose Byrne) is done up in shades of gratifying equanimity.

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The interior of the bunker where the Robot-mother brings up her over-protected daughter is meticulously designed. It gives a feeling of a cold, clinical detached home at odds with the maternal protectiveness that the robot-mother showers on the little girl.

The tensions that emerge between the two when a gritty, implacable, far from vulnerable (does Hilary Swank know any other way to be?) human stranger arrives in the midst of the mother-daughter duo. The ensuing dramatic tension is only partially explored as the plot propels itself into a self-generated hysteria about a universe on the brink of cataclysm.

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The problem with I AM MOTHER is in its awkward tonal shift. It tries to leap from the nurturing intimacy of the bunker into a world of devastation and ruin, but slips somewhere in the chasm that separates the notion of ruination from redemption.

Nonetheless, this is a reasonably engaging plot with the two human actors Hilary Swank and Clara Rugaard trying their utmost to ensure we don’t miss a larger human population in the apocalyptic intimacy of isolation. But the film is eventually felled by its failure to fuel the frisson between human and robotic instincts.

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We know these characters are troubled. But we are unable to care enough for them. [By Subhash K. Jha]

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