Qt3 Movie Podcast: I Am Mother

Title Qt3 Movie Podcast: I Am Mother
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Movie podcasts
When August 15, 2019

One of the best Rose Byrne movies since Neighbors 2: Sorority Row?

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As a fan of hard(er)-scifi, I feel the ending dropped the ball in order to tie everything up in a nice bow. Kinda like how Interstellar was believable for 90% of the runtime, and then resorted to some mumbo-jumbo about how love transcends time and space.

I was reading an interview with Grant Sputore where he mentions that Mother was the work of three people, Rose Byrne for the voice work, Tim Domett who works the animatronic radio controlled face and Luke Hawker giving the physical performance and performing Mother’s lines on set.

Absolutely loved the Synopsis! I got to hear more of these!
edit: You’ve got to snip this out and upload it on youtube or something. Others must know of the great Hilary Swanking xD

She-Goggins was sublime.

Thanks, thought my delivery was way off 'cause I was having throat issues or something. There’s something strangely addictive about writing complexly dumb things and then screaming them in idiotic accents on the Internet. I’m surprised they didn’t realize this back in the 1940s.

Clearly you’ve never heard the Goon Show

I’ve only listened to the first 50 minutes of the podcast so far. Do you guys eventually talk about the dog at the end? That’s the only part of the movie that left me wondering if something was real or not. When she comes out and finds a paper dog, and then Daughter is seen leaving, with no dog, it made me wonder: Wait, was the dog in their imaginations? Was it a paper dog the whole time? And if so, what does that mean?

Kelly addressed that in the opsis.

I had a lot of the same questions you guys did about the plot: this is one of those movies that invites scrutiny but makes less sense the more you think about it. I believe there was one scene in particular where Mother questions Hilary Swank about the “others” in the mine while Daughter isn’t present, which makes no sense if Mother is the architect of everything. Or the fact that, once it’s revealed that there isn’t a virus, why Daughter isn’t like “hey, let’s go outside and see the sun!”

I’m willing to forgive a lot of that stuff because of the strength of the acting and directing though.

I’m not sure I totally understand Daughter’s motivation in the final sequence:

Discussion of the ending

So Daughter realizes that she has been lied to by Woman. So she looks out at the sea, makes a choice, and then returns to the vault and grabs an axe.

At this point, I wasn’t sure what we were meant to think her goal was. Was she going back with the intention of killing mother and escaping with the baby? Staying there with the baby? Was she going back because she realized that Mother wanted the best for her, and life in the vault was better? Was it basically an irrational “everyone’s a liar, fuck it” plan?

In most science fiction movies about someone spending their life in a prison of lies, when they finally emerge from the vault it’s presented as a triumphant, liberating moment. So I did appreciate this movie’s take, which I call the Cypher choice; sometimes living in the matrix is better than living the rest of your life in a crate eating dog food.

@sinnick I live your final sentence in your discussion about the ending. So nicely put.

My takeaway is that Clara Rugaard’s character was going back to get her brother, probably to stay in the bunker (she tells Hilary Swank “we have everything we need here”). Getting her brother was her overriding instinct, above hunger (Hilary Swank suggests they should eat first and they’ll think better on a full stomach) and above even self-preservation. Based on grabbing the axe, I think her plan is to kill Mother and run the bunker on her own. Which is precisely what she does when she shoots Mother.


That you’ve seen Blade Runner too many times? :)

I like the idea of Clara Rugaard and Hilary Swank’s characters having shared imaginations, but I don’t think there’s any internal support for it. As near as I can tell, the dog was just a pet who was waiting faithfully in the cargo container while Hilary Swank went out on a food run and got trapped in the bunker.

I’m guessing the Killbot Mother that shows up that night at the door of Swank’s cargo container has dispatched the dog as efficiently as the Baby-Padding-Clad Mother had dispatched the mouse.


I apologize for not understanding your Blade Runner reference. I’ve only seen the movie twice, back in 1997 or so was the last time. It was pretty good, but I don’t really remember it enough to know what you’re referring to.

I just saw the dog with Daughter, and then Woman comes out and Daughter and the dog are gone, and in their place is a paper dog. And later we see Daughter, but the dog isn’t with her, and is never seen again in the movie. That’s why I thought maybe the paper dog was significant in some way.

I suppose what you’re saying is that Daughter was gone, and the dog ran off to the beach or something. So the paper dog was a way of saying goodbye? Did I miss an exchange between them earlier in the movie that it was a reference to?

Origami is famously fraught with meaning in Blade Runner.

Here, I think it’s just something the various Daughters do when they’re young. There are scenes of the Mother and the little girl folding origami, and then later you see origami figures around the bunker. But on the beach, it is kind of odd shorthand for “going back to get my brother kthnxbye”, isn’t it? You might be on to something.

But my main objection to the idea of unreliable narrators in I Am Mother is that I can’t think of any other points in the movie where that happens. If they’re there, I’ve overlooked them, which is entirely possible.

As for the actual dog, my guess is it simply wasn’t on set enough for more scenes? There’s a similar issue in a movie I love called Z for Zachariah. There’s a really awesome dog early in the movie that just goes missing at a certain point. No more scenes with the dog. It’s not in the background, no one mentions it, it’s just vanished. I’m guessing because they couldn’t get it on set or didn’t schedule enough time with it or whatever. When a scene with an animal if shot, there’s a whole infrastructure involved on the set, much like scenes with pyrotechnics, weapons, or babies.


Fair enough, but I think the slightly off delivery might’ve added to the charm. Otherwise, the only thing I can think of is that I didn’t really catch on to the fact that “later” wasn’t a part of the dialogue, lol!

Really good stuff though! Thanks for making it! I showed my girlfriend and mother (the latter who I made watch I am Mother…turned out that she didn’t really take to it lol) and they both loved your take on it :D

I don’t know why this doesn’t have a million hits. Sometimes, I think the internet is broken.


There it is! I knew there was an animated -opsis, but I couldn’t recall for which film, and my searches came up empty.

Ulla89 was the brilliant animator, did all of that. Feel badly for the sound quality they got stuck with, which is entirely on me.

I finally watched it and I mostly liked it. I think it works more than it doesn’t. I liked the small nods to ethics and to the shortcomings of the original Three Laws of Robotics; part of me is disappointed that they were not developed further, but I understand that is not really the point of the movie - more an “explanation” for why the movie develops as it does.

I certainly don’t regret watching it. I’d probably go as far as to say that I liked it more than I thought I would. It could have been more, sure, but I think it was enough, and that’s more than OK.

Also, there’s this point in the movie where Woman and Daughter enter the container, and Woman wants to eat. When she goes to grab food, you can see for a moment that her “stash” is mostly cans of corn - which is exactly what is produced in the robot-deployed plantations. I guess that’s a bit of foretelling, and ties with the “reveal” in the end (which was for me not much of a reveal), and I do like that kind of detail, so I thought I should mention it here.