Directed and Written by Sophie Barthes, The Pod Generation hit the cinema theatres on August 11, 2023. The sci-fi rom-com starring Emilia Clark and Chiwetel Ejiofor in lead roles garnered much appreciation when it premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of this year.
Set in the 22nd century, The Pod Generation shows the progress of technology and how it is going to completely engulf humanity in the future. Almost nothing is natural in that ‘developed’ world except for a few plants that Alvy Novy takes care of and abandoned forests. He is a botanist whose love for nature alienates him from the artificial world, such that his wife believes he needs AI therapy. Rachel Novy is an intelligent and tech-savvy businesswoman, well-respected in Pegasuz, who aims to give birth via a pod.
The Pod Generation satirically addresses our dependence on technology, questioning the definition of female empowerment and humanity’s loss of connection to nature.
The Pod Generation (2023) Cast
- Emilia Clark as Rachel Novy
- Chiwetel Ejiofor as Alvy Novy
- Rosalie Craig as Linda Wozcheck
- Vinette Robinson as Alice
- Jean-Marc Barr as Founder of Pegasuz
- Kathryn Hunter as a post office clerk
The Pod Generation Movie (2023) Summary & Plot
The Pod Generation movie highlights the advantages and disadvantages of progressing technology primarily through the main characters. The plot begins with Rachel getting ready for work. While she deals with her routine lifestyle easily due to the smart AI, her husband struggles with working with the machines. He forgets the password to get his coffee, wasting a few precious seconds, and his toast gets burnt. It is a time in which a human’s life will become chaotic if he doesn’t ‘mechanize’ his day-to-day actions.
Rachel gets shortlisted to give birth in a pod – an egg-shaped tech object in which the whole fertilization process takes place. Alvy is in favor of a natural birth but follows his wife’s plans. The Pod Generation movie then complicates matters for the couple; their visits to the Womb Center leave them with more questions than answers, while a visit from their neighbor Alice assures Rachel to have a pod child. The couple decides to go along with the idea. Even though the Womb Center didn’t have any methods to change the reproduction process, WC representative Linda Wozcheck gave parents the option to “choose a boy or girl.”
Alvy steals the child pod from the Womb Center because of their growing distrust of the organization’s system. The sci-fi romance becomes a thriller when Rachel starts having weird dreams despite not being pregnant. She senses her lack of motherly instincts when she witnesses a pregnant woman, even blaming Alvy for it as he had more time with the pod. Rachel ultimately decides to have a baby in the forest, highlighting how the tech-loving woman has grown disillusioned by the modern world.
The Pod Generation (2023) Movie Review
Certain disturbing scenes highlighted in The Pod Generation magnificently capture the big issue of technological advancement. Children in the Womb Center attend an art class but do nothing practical. Instead, they see an AI construct images and give feedback on it. The lack of creativity or imagination in the artificial world is seen again when a couple tells Linda that their child is having problems sleeping. The Womb Center representative dismisses it as a small problem stemming from cellular levels. Dreaming was termed “primordial” and served no function in the evolution process.
The science fiction movie is set in an age that is completely focused on productivity: intelligent women like Rachel are pressured to give birth, children undergo neuro-enhancement at an early age, and QR codes and passwords dominate the homely as well as the corporate life. Nature can be simulated with hologram trees and plants. Interestingly, yet frighteningly, no animals are seen in the movie.
Man’s growing disconnection with nature is frustrating to watch, and this is where Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in the role of Alvy. The botanist escorts people to his greenhouse to allow them to marvel at nature’s beauty, but he is met with confused looks. His need to preserve nature is frowned upon by his higher-ups, and even his wife doesn’t understand him.
Emilia Clark also wonderfully portrays the role of a high-IQ woman who is too foolish to understand how tech is controlling every aspect of her being; from serotonin levels, schedules, and even her decisions. She leaves her problems to Alaiser, an AI therapist, who doesn’t even have the consciousness to understand a human’s emotions and runs on programmed codes and logic. The similarity between Alaiser’s all-seeing and all-knowing eye with that of the evil Sauron from Lord of the Rings is satirical.
Side characters in The Pod Generation are essential to the plot. Jean-Marc Barr is only seen twice in the movie, but each time, the problem-solving founder of Pegasuz company makes claims that leave the audience dumbfounded. Rosalie Craig’s portrayal of the always cheerful Linda, who promises parents to give the best treatment to their children, is actually a product of the system that is only bent on promoting the pod child service.
Music serves to build tempo in the movie. Although The Pod Generation doesn’t have overly tense scenes, tunes are played to emphasize an emotion. A dreadful violin plays in the background when Rachel dreams of giving birth to a hard-boiled egg immediately after the scene where she takes care of the pod child with a tablet device rather than herself.
The Pod Generation raises questions on motherhood, whether an empowered woman needs to undergo the natural process of pregnancy and hamper their work life or they should use modern technological methods that rob them of natural feelings. How much control should humans give machines in the future? The answer is up to you.
The Movie Culture Synopsis: The Pod Generation Lacks A Solid Ending
Towards the end of the movie, there is a sudden shift in the serene tone. The baby became overdue, but the power was shut down by the Womb Center. In an obvious happy ending, Alvy cuts open the pod like a surgeon to get a healthy baby. The film then fast-forwards to a few days after the incident. Rachel goes to a post office to send the broken pod back to the Womb Center, and she decides to raise the baby in Shell Island, away from the technological wonders of the 22nd century.
Even though ‘nature versus artificial’ is a recurring theme, The Pod Generation fails to explore the topic via the experienced main cast. The story sets up opposing divisions with the help of both characters, but there is no solid tension or arguments between the two. Instead, the audience is left filling the gaps by witnessing the sci-fi world and reading between the lines.
Science fiction movies touch on prevalent moral, ethical, social, or political issues linked to technological progress. Rachel Novy renouncing her dependency on AI is a ‘W’ for nature, but the questions raised by the movie are left unanswered: Why should working women sacrifice their health and emotional state to have a natural pregnancy? Do feelings of motherhood only arise from pregnancy? Could parents ensure the correct nutrient intake for their baby at the right time as opposed to the mechanized pod?
Thus, The Pod Generation has generated mixed reviews from viewers and has an audience score of 55% on Rotten Tomatoes.