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I Am Mother

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
I Am Mother Movie Poster Image
Thoughtful sci-fi thriller has graphic violence, swearing.
  • PG-13
  • 2019
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

Daughter is meant to exemplify the 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 the future of humanity.

Violence

The threat of danger looms over the entire film. Daughter struggles with the 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 the bunker with a bleeding gunshot wound, which is 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 a piece of glass. Woman shoots a gun at Mother, and Daughter threatens Mother with an axe. Daughter and Woman face danger from droids in a 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.

Sex
Language

Woman swears, including “Oh, Jesus,” “bulls--t,” “hell,” “God,” “f--k.”

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 3 and 9 year old Written byDestini B. June 8, 2019
Adult Written bypinksash June 11, 2019

An exhilarating existential flick

Chilling even for me, a 19 year old. A great psychological sci fi film, with looming threat, dizzying twists, and an excellent premise. Not really appropriate f... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byNanoDude05 June 14, 2019

A Good Idea, But Not Well Written

I did find the idea a bit interesting, but way too many plot holes were left. It made absolutely no sense at the end. I'm just disappointed, as the directo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 13, 2019

Gory

The tale is thrilling but OMFG IT'S SO GORY!!!!! First an operation, that is ok but next a robot using her fingers to push through a living person whale sh... Continue reading

What's the story?

I AM MOTHER opens in a “Repopulation Facility” one day after what is called an “Extinction Event.” Titles tell us there are no current human occupants but 63,000 human embryos on site. That all changes when a robot places one of the embryos in a makeshift, womb-like container and a day later a baby girl is born. The girl is raised, cared for, and educated in the fully-equipped underground bunker by a robot she calls Mother (physically played by Luke Hawker with the lovingly maternal voice of Rose Byrne). As a teenager, Daughter (Clara Rugaard) is told she’s the last human alive and the outside world is potentially toxic to her. But her sheltered existence comes crashing apart when a human shows up at the facility claiming to have been shot by a droid. The presence and story of the Woman (Hilary Swank) forces Daughter to question her Mother’s intentions and truthfulness. If she trusts the Woman, she must leave or destroy her Mother, the only family she’s ever known. If she abandons the bunker, then she also leaves behind the other thousands of embryos who could help repopulate the earth, and whom she considers her brothers and sisters.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether or not the story for I Am Mother seems realistic. Can you envision a future where humans are fighting robots to ensure their own survival? Does science fiction have to be believable to be entertaining? 

  • Do you think robots could do a better job at raising children than humans do? Why or why not?

  • Does the scorched earth portrayed outside the Repopulation Facility remind you of depictions in any other films you’ve watched? Which ones?

  • The actors playing Mother and Daughter aren't from the United States, yet they speak with American accents. Why do you think that is?

Movie details

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