Best Thing You'll See All Week: I Am Mother

Title Best Thing You'll See All Week: I Am Mother
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Movie reviews
When June 16, 2019

It's nice to see there are still angles to explore in the "rogue AI" genre. As well as the "people in a bunker" genre..

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Speaking of the people in a bunker genre, I just got done playing “The Bunker” on steam.

It’s one of those FMV games that should have just been a movie because that’s what it is (with some annoying QTEs scattered around). I’d recommend it cheap on a sale, going in with the expectation that you’ll just be watching a decent movie.

It is also about a protective mother!

Glad I’m not alone in liking this film. I was quite happy they went in some different directions than anticipated when it first popped up on Netflix’s “Hey, you might like this!” trailer feed but I totally agree this isn’t about any reveals/twists but rather the character development through them.

Thanks for this recommendation. I just finished it and I loved it.

I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ve avoided everything about this so far, but can someone let me know if this is horror? Or just suspense? And yes psychological horror counts.

I wouldn’t call it horror. Suspense sounds about right.

Cool thing I noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned anywhere:

The drawing of the boy that Daughter loved looking at looks a lot like an older version of the little boy born near the end. I wonder if Mother originally raised two siblings, a boy and a girl, and then ditched the boy, leaving Hilary Swank alone. This would reinforce the idea that all of the embryos are clones.

Suspense. It’s much less “horror” than Stranger Things, which I consider a monster movie/show rather than horror.

If these spoilery things help, unhide. Of course, totally from my perspective, so take it with a grain of salt.
Gore: None. A little blood at points, but super minimal.
Creepy suspense level: 4/10 (Bambi = 1, The Shining = 10)
Xenomorphs-closing-in-from-all-sides-OMG-we’re-gonna-die suspense level: 3/10
Body count: One, and it happens off-screen.

Body count: Two, and three if you count Mother! :)

SUPER SPOILER

Yeah, fair, but I was counting those killed during the movie … which I guess also includes the mouse now that I think of it. But you’re right, bodies are bodies, lol.

Well, spoilers, obviously, past this point. You really can’t talk about the movie too much without spoiling fundamental parts of the plot. So if you haven’t seen I Am Mother, you should probably stop reading past this point.

Yes, the drawing of Simon is a grown version of “Brother”.

No reinforcement needed. It’s a central fact of the movie. It’s no more an idea than Darth Vader being Luke’s father is an idea in Empire Strikes Back. :)

-Tom

In that case, depending on how well the first day of the extinction event went, the body count is probably a few billion!

-Tom

LOL - touché

Tom, while I was typing my “theory”/“central fact”, I couldn’t quite resolve who Simon really was. Was he birthed at the same time as Sister (Hilary Swank)? If so, were both of them driven from the habitat at the same time?

mother

SPOILERS
IF YOU READ THIS POST AND YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE, THAT’S ON YOU!

Well, none of this is explicit, of course, but you can infer it from the provided information. For starters, the title card after the “growing up” montage reads “13,867 days after extinction”. At that moment, the movie knows you know roughly what 13000 divided by 365 is. It also knows you can tell the difference between a 13-year-old and a 39-year-old. So at that moment, you should maybe be going, “Wait, what? How old is this girl given that I saw her as a newborn only 1 day after extinction?”

So if we figure we’re looking at a 13-year-old*, the Daughter we’re currently seeing is the third iteration. Which is what the movie tells us later when her test results are filed as APX-003. That would make Hilary Swank APX-001. And when Hilary Swank tells Daughter “Simon is about your age”, that means he was birthed 13 years ago for APX-002.

So the timeline is Hilary Swank is the embryo, then baby, then little girl we see in the opening shots. She is somehow rescued or found by Jacob and Rachel (who presumably instill her with religious values, which Mother clearly doesn’t approve of given how she dismissively fingers the Virgin Mary statue at the end of the movie). APX-002 is the next attempt, and when she’s 13, Simon is birthed. But something happens that leads to her being incinerated and Simon escaping to the mines and being united with Hilary Swank.

So now APX-003 is Clara Rugaard. Hilary Swank is APX-001, who is the 39-year-old version of her. APX-002 is a jawbone in a pile of ash. Simon was APX-002’s little brother who may or may not still be alive in the mines? And at the end of the movie, APX-003 will be raising her own Brother/Simon in the bunker, without the benefit of Mother, perhaps as the next step in Mother’s attempt to repopulate the Earth with ethical people?

The only ambiguity, as near as I can tell, is how much of this is part of Mother’s plan. Was Hilary Swank intentionally “released” into the wild? Did Mother expect any of this would happen with Clara Rugaard? Is the idea to cultivate an ethical human being with a little brother, and then turn it all over to humanity? Are Clara and the new Simon alone in the bunker with 63,000 embryos the success of Mother’s plan? I kind of think so? “If you ever need to find me…” she says to Daughter in the end.

“I won’t,” she replies.

I’d actually need to think a bit more about how Mother’s plan fits in with all the sniper bots, the big mech trying to melt down the door, how Mother interacts with Hilary Swank, and so forth. Her motivations as a character, as an AI, are certainly open to interpretation. I feel this is a movie like Infinity War or Black Panther where we’re supposed to wonder if maybe the “villain” has a point. But I also feel the chronology and the relationship among the characters is unambiguous.

-Tom

* I’m not really good at figuring out kids’ ages, but if I had to guess, I’d say Clara Rugaard is actually 16 or so. But I got the impression the movie was trying to make her look like a gangly pre-adolescent kid. And 13 fits neatly with the math, so I’m going with that.

Yeah, this had me wondering if the movie had a typo at first. I wouldn’t expect most people to see that and question the math though. Most people seem to be very math adverse in general!

Thanks, Tom!

Here is where I have to admit that I did not divide 13,867 by 365 in my head while watching the movie. Kudos to all of you who were able to pick up on that clue. I did have a queasy feeling that 13,867 seemed like a lot of days for how old APX-003 looked, but then I dismissed the feeling and carried on.

I like to think that APX-001 was able to take care of business with that crowbar at the end. She was plucky.

I also like to think that if Mother wanted to track her, she would NOT have included a FLASHING RED LIGHT on the tracking device, but oh well. That, and the wind-resistant origami, were the only two moments where I was all what.

I believe (to answer your final questions) that Mother’s plan was cold yet reasonable: destroy all humans, recultivate the planet, and raise new ethical (and brave) humans. Just the kind of despicable plan that an AI would think is logical and right. I love the movie for this!

This was on my radar already, but seeing it make Tom’s “best thing” list motivated me to watch it last night. What a treat, finally something that makes Netflix worthwhile for more than just kids’ shows.

When she started to sing the Dumbo song at the end I got chills.

I don’t know why they spoiled so much of the movie so earlier on in the film. I ended up sitting there, annoyed, for almost another 90 minutes waiting for the film to finally reveal some big bombshell that ended up landing with a thud.

That and the fact anything voiced by Rose Byrn is never to be trusted in the first place, this film just bugged me on so many levels.

I really need to stop watching Netflix productions.

I would argue the movie has no desire to drop any bombshells. It’s an anti-Shyamalan. From the review at the top of the thread:

That’s usually a wise choice. :)

-Tom