'The Pod Generation' - The Wild Ride to Parenthood

"The Pod Generation" via IMDb.

“The Pod Generation” (Roadside Attractions) is a good example of a high-concept movie that runs out of juice just as it’s about to say something profound. It wants to be edgy but it’s dull. It also can’t decide if it’s meant to be funny or serious and ends up being neither.

Writer/director Sophie Barthes is obviously fascinated with the effects of technology on humanity. She made that clear with her 2009 Paul Giamatti vehicle “Cold Souls,” about a company that specializes in soul storage.

In a near-future version of New York, married couple Rachel (Emilia Clarke) and Alvy (Chiwetel Ejiofor) have a nice life. They live in a beautiful apartment in a modern high-rise. Alvy is a botanist and a teacher, with his own personal greenhouse. Rachel works for Pegazus, a powerful technology company run by its nameless Bezos lookalike founder (Jean-Marc Barr).

Right from the start we can see that they are in love, despite being very different people. She’s a career-driven techie and he’s a laid-back nature lover. So, you can imagine the conflict that arises when it comes time to start a family. Alvy wants to do it the natural way. One of the perks of Rachel’s employment at Pegazus is her access to the Womb Center (recently acquired by Pegazus) where, following laboratory egg fertilization, the zygote/embryo/fetus develops in an egg-shaped pod with a porous membrane, safe from viruses, toxins, bacteria and chemicals.

Rachel attends a seminar at the Womb Center with others planning to start families (including a lesbian couple) without telling Alvy. She even goes so far as to sign an agreement and leave a deposit. When he finds out, Alvy is initially upset but he eventually comes around and they begin the process. Their uncomfortable meeting with the Womb Center’s severe administrator Linda (Rosalie Craig), borders on humorous, but never earns the potential laughs.

What follows is surprisingly predictable. Rachel’s original excitement begins to fade, especially after she has difficulty bonding with the pod. Alvy, on the other hand, takes to the pod, reading to it, bringing it into the greenhouse with him, and even to the campus where he teaches.

Once they overcome this hurdle, they begin embracing the development of the new life they created. But it’s not all smooth sailing. They are increasingly creeped out by Linda, especially in scenes involving a visit to a school for their child, as well as the Womb Center childbirth workshop where they learn that they must now separate from the pod, leaving it at the incubation center.

A sudden shift in mood occurs when Rachel decides she wants to leave the city with Alvy and the pod and have a “home birth” at their beach house on Shell Island. Of course, this is frowned upon, especially since the fetus is theirs, but the pod belongs to Pegazus, and Alvy must sneak the pod out of the Womb Center. The ominous sensation that occurs at this point is never brought to fruition (another lost opportunity), and the movie ends on what feels like an abrupt note.

Rating: C

Gregg Shapiro is the author of nine books including Refrain in Light (Souvenir Spoon Books, 2023). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBTQ+ and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in South Florida with his husband Rick, and their dog Coco.


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