Directed by German filmmaker Maria Shrader and starring Maren Eggert and British actor Dan Stevens, I’m Your Man (original title: Ich bin dein Mensch) follows scientist Alma (Eggert) as she reluctantly embarks on to see if humanoids can become part of society. As part of the trial, she agrees to ‘test’ out a cyborg named Tom (Stevens), who has been programmed to be her ideal partner.
When the film starts, it looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship. A shy woman, Alma, enters a luxuriously decorated bar and is immediately introduced to the attractive Tom. His intelligence and charm don’t sit well with Alma but when they hit the dancefloor for a spot of rumba, things freeze up – or more notably, Tom. After this awkward ‘encounter’, Alma is revealed to be a reluctant candidate to evaluate the use of robots as life partners and due to her singleton, childless status, she seems to be the only person eligible for this trial.
Unfortunately, Alma is not in the mood for love. A scientist herself, she is busy trying to prepare her study for publication and taking care of her elderly father. She treats the trial as an inconvenience and is certain that she doesn’t need a machine to make her happy, let alone a man. However, Tom is the perfect man – he makes breakfast, tidies up, makes candle-lit baths and even colour-coordinates books according to colour. Despite his best efforts, they are wasted on the cynical and closed-off Alma, who sees nothing more than someone, nay something, that was made for her.
But I’m Your Man shows that there is more than compatibility at play. Shrader’s witty screenplay and careful direction beautifully create the unwitting sparks between the two, with Alma’s antagonism towards Tom manifesting in barbs and jibes, not to mention reminders of his ‘lack’ of humanity while he calmly chooses to use her responses to act more accordingly. This results in an uncertain rapport between the characters but when he notices an issue with Alma’s study, they begin to communicate – just like a normal relationship.
With Shrader’s narrative focusing on connection and emotivity, the chemistry between the two leads highlights the subtle changes in their ‘relationship’ so they complement each other as companions, rather than just having Tom be a prospective partner. Eggert brings a sensitivity to the closed-off Alma while Stevens dominates the film while showing off his fluency in German in an amazingly graceful physical performance that is as good as Alicia Vikander’s Ava in the 2015 thriller Ex-Machina.
Incorporating a slight sci-fi twist in its otherwise conventional narrative, I’m Your Man is an unlikely love story yet exudes such charm and wit, especially from Eggert and Stevens, that it is easy to fall for.
Director: Maria Shrader
Stars: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller
Runtime: 102 minutes