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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
What sets humans apart from robots is their capacity to feel emotion. A teenage girl can be raised to make ethical decisions, complete a difficult surgery, repair robots, care for a baby, and more. Humans will defend each other to ensure their own survival and the future of humankind.
Positive Role Models
Daughter is meant to exemplify best version of humanity: smarter and more ethical. Woman helps Daughter, though her primary motivation is self-preservation. Mother is programmed to show Daughter love and encouragement, like a human mom, but says her "primary directive" is to care for and ensure future of humanity.
Violence & Scariness
Threat of danger looms over entire film. Daughter struggles with psychological trauma of not knowing whether she can trust, and of potentially having to kill, her own robot Mother, the only family she has ever known. Woman stumbles into bunker with bleeding gunshot wound, shown in graphic detail. Daughter conducts surgery on Woman with no anesthetic, involving tools that cause Woman to scream in extreme pain. Daughter cuts her hand on piece of glass. Woman shoots a gun at Mother, and Daughter threatens Mother with axe. Daughter, Woman face danger from droids on scorched earth devoid of humans. Woman says she has seen droids torch babies and starve families, alludes to cannibalism. Woman's own fate at the hand of a droid is suggested.
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Woman swears, including "Oh, Jesus," "bulls--t," "hell," "God," and "f--k."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that while I Am Mother is filled with explicit violence, they might be more concerned about the disturbing psychological dilemma faced by the teenage main character (Clara Rugaard). The film's tension lies in watching her grapple with potential and real emotional trauma and the threat of violence from her own Mother, a robot who walks and talks like a human. Kids could find the depiction of an apparently loving but potentially murderous robot mother too upsetting. A woman stumbles into the bunker with a bleeding gunshot wound, which is shown in graphic detail. A character shoots a gun at Mother, and Daughter threatens Mother with an axe. Both Daughter and Woman face danger from droids. One drug-free surgery scene, depicted in graphic detail, isn't for the squeamish, and a character swears intermittently, including "bulls--t" and "f--k." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Even if you aren't hooked by the imagined dystopian future or unhurried pace, you may still appreciate the tale's central psychological paradox and potential for social commentary. We worry about robots taking over our jobs, but how much more unsettling is the idea of robots taking over our most precious family roles, including that of mother? I Am Mother's script, which was generating buzz long before it got produced and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (where Netflix picked it up), transforms the most loving and trusted figure in a young girl's life into a robot. With a human enough figure and an affectionate female voice, "Mother" is programmed to read and respond perfectly to the emotional states of "Daughter." But, alas, the robot cannot feel human emotion and is ultimately designed to serve a higher purpose than nurturing just one individual.
The way Mother has raised and educated Daughter to be technically competent and ethically principled might offer a view into what is considered ideal human knowledge and behavior. Compare her to the angry, defensive Woman, who stumbles into the facility and cracks Daughter's sheltered world. Enterprising viewers may also find broader messages in the story about what it means to be a good parent and raise a good child, the importance of family and belonging, and the intrinsic value of individual lives, or look for implications on social issues like homeschooling and embryo cryopreservation. In I Am Mother, humans designed the robots that are now designing the humans, and it's suggested that the failure of the human species was inevitable. All of these juicy propositions in the script are served by the film's futuristic yet claustrophobic set design, the director's focus on characters' expressions and reactions, and the actors' convincing performances.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.