The Pod Generation (2023)

3.1 of 5 from 45 ratings
1h 49min
Not released
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Sophie Barthes' third feature film is set in the very near future world where AI is all the rage and technology has trumped nature in nearly every aspect of life. 'The Pod Generation' follows Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a New York couple who are ready to start a family. As a rising tech company executive, Rachel lands a coveted spot at the Womb Center, which offers couples the opportunity to share pregnancy on a more equal footing by way of mobile, artificial wombs, or pods. Alvy, a botanist and devoted purist about the natural environment, has doubts, but his love for Rachel prompts him to take a leap of faith.
And so, begins the wild ride on their tech-paved path to parenthood.
, , , , Lamara Strijdhaftig, Emma De Poot, Kyoung Her, Karel Van Cutsem, , Bernard Gallant, Aslin Farrell, Benedict Landsbert-Noon, Padraig Turley, Paul Kiza Amani, , Loreanne Asratian, Malaika Wilson, Anoushka van Keulen, Nathalie Opare, Ramy Moharam Fouad
Nadia Khamlichi, Genevieve Lemal, Martin Metz, Yann Zenou
Sophie Barthes
Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
109 minutes
DVD Regions:
Region 2

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The Pod Generation review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

Quirky dystopian dramas always seem to run a line between the darkness of an artificial future and a quiet guffaw for the absurdity of it all. So many of these films seem less like cautionary tales and more like odd asides that comment more on the aesthetic of our automated future than saying anything all that profound about mankind’s relationship with technology. The Pod Generation does try to tap into something more, but it only feels like it’s scuffing the surface of a much bigger idea, almost terrified to go deeper.

The film is set in a future where babies can be born outside the womb in special pods. These artificial wombs are an exclusive service provided to those on a waitlist seeking to become parents, adding to the quiet anxieties about how there are still endless waits for healthcare in the future. Rachel Novy (Emilia Clarke) and her husband Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have won the latest lottery for their pod baby, but they don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with each other. Namely, Alvy wasn’t informed that Rachel had placed their names in the lottery. They also have different views on technology, where Rachel embraces the AI-drenched society while Alvy prefers the naturalistic wonder of plants and trees. You can probably imagine how they clash on the prospect of having their child being born in an artificial womb like it’s a Kinder egg.

The couple feuds, but in a mostly passive way where they keep their more passionate feelings bottled. After all, they live in a world where their health is constantly monitored, and the only therapist you can speak with is an artificial intelligence program. The obligatory critique of how capitalism consumes and commodifies human life arrives in smaller doses than expected. Rachel thinks a pod baby is a great idea but finds herself terrified of how she feels less like a mother giving birth and more like she’s a shopper purchasing a baby at a big-box store, a prospect that is hammered home hard in her nightmares. This tech-based birth initially puts off Alvy, but he soon finds himself enjoying the pleasures of caring for his unborn child at home. All of this culminates in the peace-making finale, where all that matters is that a family is created and loves each other.

In one sense, that’s a more welcoming message from this futuristic dramedy. There’s a tenderness present that isn’t as prominent in these films that view tech advancement with great danger. By that same token, however, the film doesn’t shy away from the more grotesque aspects of how this society developed. One of the most disheartening moments for the couple is when they visit a possible school their child may attend. Rather than draw on paper, the children present rely on coding an AI robot to draw the pictures for them. When Alvy questions this aspect of developing creativity through coding, the tour guide responds bluntly to these decisions being bound more by corporations than anything else. It is an unfortunate development far too dry in its satire to be alluring for the absurdity.

The drama is also mildest between the couple. They have their differences and relatable concerns that would cause them to butt heads over how their marriage should continue and how they should raise a child. If they do butt heads, they’ve been given cushy helmets to prevent themselves from ever growing too passionate. It’s as though this society has so reduced them that they have settled into quietly resolving their issues in a manner more mundane than understanding. So simplistic is the couple that they’ve been reduced to such degrees that the tree-hugging Alvy will instruct his students to hug trees.

The Pod Generation certainly has something noteworthy about how technology fuses with married life and the prospect of parenthood, but it doesn’t find the right words. There’s a fine line being walked here, considering it wants to condemn a corporation for monopolizing artificial wombs but doesn’t want to neglect the benefit of this service for those who struggle to become pregnant. Something this intriguing feels like it needs a firmer grip on societal commentary and how transhumanism intersects with love between families. Perhaps those are aspirations far too grand for a film that merely wants to be about a quirky couple having a pod family in an odd and relatable future.

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