Emmy Coer (Francesca Faridany) is an ambitious computer scientist who has just won an award for doing pioneer work. When she discovers that she's pregnant, her boyfriend Nick (J. D. Wolf) orders her to slow down her project on artificial life research. But Emmy is obsessed with Ada Byron King (Tilda Swinton), the daughter of Lord Byron and the inventor of the first computer language. Using information waves, she finds a way to access this conflicted nineteenth century woman's life. Then in a startling breakthrough, she uses her own genetic code to collapse time and link her world with Ada's. Emmy desperately wants to find a way to save this trailblazer's work and reputation.
Writer and director Lynn Hershman Leeson has fashioned a mesmerizing and cinematically bold drama that moves fluidly between the past and present. Conceiving Ada is an innovatively feminist film in which two women struggle to give birth to something that will be lasting despite the intrusion of their mothers and the constraining presence of male lovers. Tilda Swinton, who was so forceful in Orlando, is equally memorable here as Ada, an enchantress of numbers, a free spirit, and a brave explorer of alternate worlds. Facing the end of her life, Ada says: "Death makes the fragility of life delicious."