Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man is not your typical romantic comedy. The science fiction tale is not so much about finding the perfect partner, but rather what life would be like if your ideal match was created for you.
Finding a partner is the last thing on archaeologist Alma Felser’s (Maren Eggert) mind as she is close to publishing what she believes will be a career defining study. In exchange for securing the necessary funding she requires Alma reluctantly agrees to take on a quality control assignment where she must evaluate new humanoid technology. Comprised of millions of data points, these humanoids are designed to be the ideal mate. As the company who created them only allows single people to sign up for the chance of finding companionship, and Alma is the only single person at her office, she has drawn the short straw in her boss’ (Failou Seck) eyes for testing one of these robots.
Despite her unwillingness, Alma is instantly surprised by how real these machines seem when she meets Tom (Dan Stevens), who has been specifically tailored to check off her numerous boxes. However, Alma is not that easily swept off her feet. In fact, she does not believe that romance can be programmed. Part of what makes love exciting for her are the intangibles that cannot be accounted for. Of course, her views will be put to the test when part of the evaluation involves taking Tom home for a three-days trial period.
Immediately seeing problems with having a mate who can predict things, such as the probability of getting into an accident if one’s car seat is not adjusted to just the right angle, Alma views Tom as nothing more than an android designed to read from a script and take orders. However, beneath his handsome looks and childlike innocence charms, he is discovering the nuances of human interaction for the first time, Tom proves to be more surprising than she anticipates. His constant desire to learn allows him to see things in life that Alma has closed herself off to.
What makes the opposites attract style setup work in I’m Your Man is the fact that Alma is so reluctant to even entertain the idea of Tom as a viable option for a good portion of the film. Stuck in her own head, and ego, Alma claims not to need anyone but, deep down, is more miserable than she is willing to let on. When not throwing herself into her work, she must deal with her father’s (Wolfgang Hübsch) dementia and the fact that her ex-boyfriend and co-worker Julian (Hans Löw) is thriving with his new relationship. Schrader’s film is not so much about Tom swimming across a figurative moat to woo Alma, but rather Alma letting the drawbridge down so that she can confront her own issues with life and love.
While Alma’s views on whether humanoids can bring positive benefits to society are problematic at times, she approaches it from an ableist perspective which itself is rather narrow-minded, the film never digs too deeply into the philosophical soil. Schrader offsets these moral discussions with a refreshing level of humour that keeps the film from taking itself too seriously. Even when I’m Your Man feels a little long in the tooth, the chemistry between Eggert and Stevens remains charming. The addition of the always wonderful Sandra Hüller, as a facilitator at the company that created Tom, adds a nice level of quirky humour to the film.
A delightful exploration of humanity and love, I’m Your Man is a rom-com that thankfully never quite goes where you expect.