The Pod Generation: Sundance 2023 Film Review

Year: 2023

Runtime: 109 minutes

Director/Writer: Sophie Barthes

Stars: Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Eijofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Jean-Marc Barr

By Morgan Roberts

“The Pod Generation” follows couple Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alfy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) as they look to expand their family. In the 22nd century, technology has provided humans with comfort, from AI therapist to “Her”-esque personal assistants. So when it comes to having children, parents seek to use the Womb Center, a company which gestates babies in pods. Alfy is focused more on nature, wanting to have a child naturally. Meanwhile, Rachel is an ambitious exec moving up in her company, and despite wanting to have a child, she doesn’t necessarily want to deal with the physical demands of childbearing. 

The film dissects the stages that can occur when couples are expecting. From the nesting to the fears of impending parenthood, we see Rachel and Alfy deal with the growing pains not just of their future roles as parents but as they struggle with society as a whole. Alfy is far more interested in how things used to be, with Rachel embracing aspects of the technology of their time.

Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel and Rosalie Craig appear in a still from “The Pod Generation” by Sophie Barthes, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Andrij Parekh

Some of the satire feels a little underdeveloped but it’s quickly saved by Clarke and Ejiofor. Ejiofor gets to act as the bridge between our present and this postulated future. He holds nostalgia for the past and for the natural world. Clarke is superb as Rachel. She balances the joy and excitement and doom and frustration with nearing motherhood. She’s equal parts charming, hilarious, and human. “The Pod Generation” works best when Clarke gets to be her most authentic and endearing. 

If the film was trimmed down just a little bit, it would’ve been top notch. Some of the ideas did not feel as fully formed as they could have been. Alternatively, I think that had the film shown that technological advances are how some people are able to have children, it could have added a layer of nuance I was looking for. Even so, Clarke and Ejiofor are superb, and pull together this sci-fi satirical mashup in a really grounded way. 


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