From the start, you know I Am Mother is not going to be your typical sci-fi film.
Netflix’s latest original production opens with a montage of a robot growing a human child from a frozen embryo all the way to teenage-hood set to the tune of Betty Noyes’s Baby Mine from Dumbo (1941).
It’s a touching opening and keys you in to the main themes of the movie – as well as the main twist, if you’re paying attention.
The story initially follows the titular Mother, a humanoid robot voiced by Rose Byrne and portrayed in costume by Luke Hawker, who is tasked with restoring humanity following their its extinction some time in the future. She lives in a secret bunker with her charge, known simply as Daughter and played by Clara Rugaard.
Initially, They live a peaceful life until the sudden arrival of a human from the outside – played by Hilary Swank and known only as Woman – who makes Daughter question all everything she’s been brought up to believe.
The story has many twists and turns, but I Am Mother is more focused on the characters rather than the world outside and here it excels.
Mother herself undoubtedly steals the show. Bryne’s voice work is truly mesmerising and when combined with Hawker’s excellent physical performance, the pair create a character who is simultaneously nurturing and menacing.
Rugaard’s Daughter is also a treat. Watching her desperately try to figure out the truth and who to trust is engrossing, and her interactions with both Mother and Woman are some of the best parts of the movie.
Add to all of this some amazing set and costume design as well as haunting music and you have what I honestly believe to be one of the best sci-fi movies out there.
Also, Mother is 100% costume, no CGI. Watching Mythbusters’ Adam Savage geek out with Hawker over the suit is almost as much fun as the movie.