The Pod Generation Review
The Pod Generation (2023) Film Review, a movie written and directed by Sophie Barthes and starring Emilia Clarke, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosalie Craig, Vinette Robinson, Lamara Strijdhaftig, David Beelen, Aslin Farrell and Malaika Wilson.
Sophie Barthes has created one of the most intriguing smaller films of the year with the very interesting, if at times, underdeveloped, The Pod Generation. Emilia Clarke, outside of “Game of Thrones,” has played some of the most adorable characters in movies with films like Me Before You and Last Christmas. She’s much more mature as an actress with her compelling role in Barthes’ new movie and as her character’s husband, Chiwetel Ejiofor, is also in a different state of mind than we are accustomed to seeing him in here. This is almost like a futuristic Woody Allen movie at times thanks to its occasional use of old-fashioned music but the film also feels a bit unique thanks to Barthes’ own personal touches.
One of the funniest scenes of the movie (which is set in a futuristic New York) revolve around married couple Rachel (Clarke) and Alvy (Ejiofor)’s experiences with a tech giant company, Pegazus, which allows its customers to use egg-like pods to grow their children. It’s a Womb Center where the woman in charge, Linda (a very entertaining Rosalie Craig) will seemingly say anything to get business. Linda even undermines the importance of dreams at one point, saying they’re not necessary to live a happy life. That’s certainly debatable. Linda shows a visual of the sperm meeting the egg to the ambitious Rachel and the slightly more down-to-earth Alvy at one point and this scene, in particular, is hilarious in a subtle way. It’s almost like Linda is trying to heighten the simple realities of creation through technology which offers the couple an opportunity to witness the actual formation of a child.
The Pod Generation nails the fact that working professionals rarely have time for the intimacy and physical demands required to have a baby. This film’s observations are smart and on-point. Rachel’s company depends on her and needs her to continue to work at an expected pace which means slowing down to have a baby is not an easy choice to make. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible. When Rachel and Alvy talk about selling one of their homes in another motif within the film, Alvy seems to have a sentimental attachment to the house which doesn’t allow him to easily sell the place. This scenario is very realistically played out through the characters’ dialogue together which feels more authentic than not throughout the picture.
The conflict between Artificial Intelligence, technology and humanity comes into view during the course of this film. This makes for thought-provoking scenes regarding the way the world is headed and how professionals must re-think their entire lives in order to procreate. I think the movie makes a few missteps towards the end, including a scenario where Alvy must try to pry open the egg the baby is being born inside. There are scenes that feel like they could have used a polish in the writing department besides this one as well. Some of the couple’s arguing dialogue lacks agency and detracts from the quality of the film as a whole. They argue, make up and then argue again through a lot of the movie.
That being said, The Pod Generation has a lot of lofty thematic elements on its plate. It could make one rethink the entire way babies have been brought into this world up until now and the effects on the parents that have resulted from such old-school philosophies that were a prelude to technology and scientific advances.
Ejiofor as the sensitive husband is very believable. He and Clarke feel authentic in their roles. Clarke is cast against type here and succeeds. We’re used to seeing her in romantic, feel-good roles that allow her sensitivity to shine through. Here, she’s more human. She’s flawed and has real driving needs that are dictated by the futuristic expectations of the new world the movie presents.
Yes, The Pod Generation takes too many risks. It exaggerates a lot of the scenarios to heighten the effects of the events that transpire throughout the movie almost all for entertainment value. That being said, this film felt like Woody Allen was doing a movie set in the future with a lot of themes that could make for meaty conversations afterwards. The Pod Generation is essentially a two-character piece, for better or worse. Let’s credit Sophie Barthes for making it work. It seems like inspiration hit Barthes with the witty and creative script that was crafted for this movie. It’s a good film.
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