Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: Maria Schrader
Writers: Jan Schomburg, Maria Schrader. Based on the short story by Emma Braslavsky
Actors: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens
By Caz Armstrong
Recently announced as Germany’s entry for the Best International Feature Film Oscar, “I’m Your Man” (2021) is an intriguing and philosophical rom-com directed by Maria Schrader. Fans of the British sci-fi series “Humans” will have a head start on some of the themes explored here.
Alma (Maren Eggert) enters a sumptuous swing bar and meets the dashing Tom (Dan Stevens). He is intelligent, flirtatious and a good dancer, everything a woman would want. But after a moment he starts to glitch and is whisked away, twitching. He’s a humanoid robot.
Being an analytical scientist, and a single woman, Alma is best placed to test out this new robot and help decide whether such machines should be permitted to marry, to work, or to hold other human rights. With the lure of funding for her research, she agrees to test out Tom for three weeks and report back on the ethics of these robots.
Despite being fed by millions of datapoints on what makes a good partner, and being specifically designed to be everything Alma wants, Tom observes what Alma likes and dislikes, constantly adapting and learning, aiming to fulfil her every need… But as perfect as he can become, he’s not human.
“I’m Your Man” therefore explores this contradiction. Some people are able to embrace cognitive dissonance and find fulfilment in something they know isn’t real. For others there’s a huge gulf between hearing the right words and knowing that they’re empty. But even for those people, logic still can’t always override desire.
Both lead performances are quite special. Maren Eggert won the Silver Bear award for Best Leading Performance and English actor Dan Stevens performed his entire role in German, albeit with a convenient excuse for his English accent.
Stevens brings a lot of humour and charm to his role as a robot trying to appear like a natural human. His character also delivers a lot of emotion through his clinical dissection of Alma’s complex feelings around children and loss. There is a real chemistry between the leads.
“I’m Your Man” is funny and sweet but the philosophical side will leave you wondering whether humanity can really be replicated with enough datapoints. Is artificial intelligence going too far? And should we try to replicate perfect love or would the constant validation actually stifle our growth as humans. This charming film has a light touch but delivers a backhander of analysis of the human condition.