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 Rosa Parra

“The Pod Generation”(2023) is written and directed by Sophie Barthes and stars Emilia Clark, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson and Jean-Marc Barr. It follows married couple Rachel (Clark) and Alvy (Ejiofor) who are looking to grow their family in a new technologically advanced way. The Womb Center offers the opportunity for families to have children via an artificial womb. It’s not a surrogate but instead a technologically advanced egg-shaped womb. 

The sci-fi aspect of this movie is superb with the production design building a world that isn’t far-fetched for the coming years. The performances by Ejiofor and Clark make this movie watchable. Their performances work best when they’re on screen together. But they can be hit or miss, depending on the story. Barthes lays down the thematics and topics of conversation, leaving the audience to interpret what’s unfolding as well as debate the nature vs technology discourse.

As someone who has had four pregnancies, this film felt a little too outlandish for me. I understand its satirical approach, and perhaps this would’ve been better received if it kept that tone rather than trying to add seriousness and a dramatic element to it. That tells me that at some point I was supposed to care about our protagonists and root for them during their journey. In a film highlighting the disconnect between humans and nature, I could not feel more disconnected from this story than how these characters were in the movie. Some sequences were irritating to witness, because what begins as a decision to have a child in an artificial womb to avoid any physical burden that comes with childbearing ends with Rachel having a tantrum because she doesn’t feel connected to her baby. Perhaps the purpose is to showcase the disadvantages of procreating this way, but if that was the case, then the satire factor diminishes the message.

As mentioned earlier, this scenario is something I can envision in the upcoming years, because women are set to a different set of standards regarding their career and their familial role. That is something worth exploring and diving into. The potential is there, but it’s wasted in this movie. The third act is supposed to be suspenseful and nerve-wracking but fails to have that effect due to its lack of build-up and uneven tone. 

Overall, “The Pod Generation” has compelling ideas and intentions, but the execution fails to deliver due to its lack of underdeveloped storylines and inability to distinguish whether it’s a satire or a serious drama. 


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