THE POD GENERATRION – Review by Lois Alter Mark

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I get that The Pod Generation, Sophie Barthes’ new film about pregnancy in the age of technology, is supposed to be satire; I really do. Yet, instead of laughing, I found myself growing increasingly sad as I watched it. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s so good, I’m worried it could actually be a foreshadowing of our future.

The Pod Generation takes place towards the end of the 21st century and follows the lives of Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a young couple living in a high-tech high-rise, where the shades rise with the sun, the toast is 3-D printed and fresh-brewed coffee is ready for them when they wake up – if they ask for it politely. Pretty much everything is run by AI, with Alexa-like assistants helping to pick out their clothes for the day, measuring their “bliss index” and making suggestions for their health, which they don’t necessarily appreciate.

When Rachel gets promoted at her tech company, she’s told that one of the perks is help paying the exorbitant fees required to have a baby through the Womb Center, which offers pods for gestation. It’s essentially an external womb that looks like a big egg and it frees a woman from the “inconvenience” of giving up her body for nine months.

“It’s called ‘technological progress,’” says Linda (Rosalie Craig), the smiling but terrifying Womb Center tour guide/salesperson. “We’re humans and we humans have always managed to control nature. No woman is completely free until she has control over her own reproductive system.” Totally agree with that second part, but …

Alvy, a self-employed botanist, is against the idea because he is all about nature. Rachel takes him to talk to her AI therapist and he eventually gives in to make her happy. He’s able to share the responsibility of “pregnancy” with Rachel now, and they take turns carrying around the pod, seemingly proving the Womb Center’s goal of empowering both women and men. Sure, it’s great to have men equally invested in pregnancy, but …

No one in The Pod Generation seems particularly happy. This may be because, as Alvy tells Rachel, “Being divorced from nature makes us so emotionally starved.” Success is measured by “likes” and there’s very little meaningful human interaction. Even the actual conception occurs on a screen, as Alvy and Rachel watch his sperm try to fertilize one of her eggs while they stand by, listening to Linda’s play-by-play.

The whole movie is disconcerting because you can see it playing out in real life someday. It literally takes the trendy new philosophy of “detachment parenting” to its most extreme. While it tries to stay lighthearted, there’s a dark undertone that makes the film thoroughly thought-provoking. And, although much of the story may seem farfetched now, there’s little doubt we’re moving in that direction.

More than a satire, The Pod Generation is a cautionary tale. I wonder what ChatGPT would have to say about it.

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Lois Alter Mark

Lois Alter Mark is an award-winning writer who reviews films on Midlife at the Oasis. A former contributing writer for Entertainment Weekly for more than a decade, she also reviewed films for NickJr.com for many years. She is a member of San Diego Film Critics Society and tweets from @loisaltermark. She writes about travel for USA Today and Forbes.