Mattson Tomlin’s directorial debut feature Mother/Android is the latest Netflix Original that critics and viewers are divided over. While some find the premise of the sci-fi thriller repetitive and overused, others have genuinely praised the humane touch within the oxymoronic title. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Algee Smith, the film juxtaposes the warmth of motherhood against the unfeeling nature of androids in a post-apocalyptic world.
Tomlin, whose biological Romanian parents gave him up for adoption under unavoidable circumstances on the brink of the Romanian War, said that the film was a “love letter” to his biological parents who dreamed of a better future for him. While the film could have been better executed, it is a brilliant allegory for adoption, and Moretz’s heartfelt performance accentuates the atmospheric tension.
Shot during the pandemic, Tomlin had to work with a restricted number of crew members that impacted production greatly. However, the Blade Runner-fanatic remained undeterred in his debut attempt. He weaves in a story of parenthood against a war-torn backdrop where the United States is overrun by deadly androids, waiting to kill as many humans as they can. As with any other sci-fi film, it uses the same plot device where the androids and computers become more intelligent than humans, thus posing a threat to humanity at large.
The film is set in the near future and opens with the idea that androids work as household help for humans who have codes to control them. As college sweethearts, Georgia and Sam (played by Moretz and Smith) stumble upon the news of unplanned pregnancy that confuses Georgia. Before they can contemplate the situation, disaster strikes at a college party when they see the android randomly killing their friends. Tomlin’s fault lies in his amateur manoeuvring of time as the film suddenly skips forward by nine months when Georgia is heavily pregnant and living in a tent with Sam.
The incoherence in the timeline makes the film a little less believable than usual. However, they have plenty of misadventures and are kicked out of a military camp, going on to find a dilapidated house, shoot androids in a motorcycle chase sequence and eventually reach the hospital while trying to make their way to Boston. They are desperate to reach the destination as boats take the mother and child to Asia, namely Korea, which is allegedly safe from the android attacks. While Sam is bleeding to death, Georgia decides to hand over her son to the ship, who will take her baby to safety. Although uncertainty looms large over her, Georgia’s cries of anguish and despair as the baby is taken away from her is reminiscent of the plight of countless parents who are compelled to give up their children for adoption due to various unavoidable obstacles in their path.
Moretz’s gut-wrenching performance as Georgia will make the viewers bawl their eyes out. While the dramatic tension is infused within the various sci-fi elements, Tomlin’s message is crystal clear. Still, it falls short of being perfectly original content, albeit this is his first attempt. However, the director’s work is promising and highlights how good an actress Moretz is. It also provides a shuddering image of what the near future may look like where androids are suddenly overcome by the evil urge to exterminate humans.