This medium-budget Aussie sci-fi (which was picked up by Netflix after Sundance) is plainly derivative, yet has a claim to be more than the sum of other movies’ parts based on the way its premise contains an important thrust of novelty.
This being the (clearly dubious) notion, familiar to totalitarian systems in the last century and before, that all that is bad in human nature can be nurtured out of us.
So this time an over-reaching super-AI, having decided that humanity represents if not a threat to it, at least a bloody nuisance, presses the re-set button and starts again with a single (kind of) first woman with the plan of carefully educating this ‘daughter’ within a bunker-like Eden in such a manner that humanity 2.0 is primed to value the claims of the many over the few.
Why would a supposedly well-informed machine intelligence come to believe that this plan, attempted unsuccessfully (and brutally) in an albeit less pure form by various human societies, work better under its tutelage? Surely it would have swatted up and found out that we ourselves have figured out that the perfectability of man plan has been discredited?
Only the ability to keep trying over and over again until it gets it right seems to justify the programme — that and the fact that compromised humanity appears to have contributed to its own demise. Yet the essential problem remains: how to stop fundamental human nature re-asserting itself.
The movie has other problems, such as a third female character that ultimately makes only partial sense. Meanwhile, although young Irish-Danish actress Clara Rugaard is at the heart of much that is good about the movie — as are the voice acting skills of Rose Byrne as the personality of her robot ‘Mother’ — we both couldn’t help feeling that a lone human child brought up in this way would be noticeably stranger than the script ultimately allows ‘Daughter’ to be.
I suppose the director felt he needed to give his film a relate-able YA vibe, but this has the effect of dampening the deeper and darker stuff that might have made it a better.