I am Your Man

Maria Schrader’s “I’m Your Man,” which received an award at Berlin earlier this 12 months earlier than a restricted theatrical launch from Bleecker Road subsequent week, is a intelligent little film, a movie that defies its set-up as a well-recognized, quirky rom-com to change into one thing deeper and extra poignant concerning the human situation. In fact, utilizing unimaginable know-how to focus on what it actually means to be human has been the inspiration of science fiction for generations however Schrader and co-writer Jan Schomburg (working from a brief story by Emma Braslavsky) imbue their style hybrid with eloquence and intelligence. And it helps an awesome deal to have two pleasant performers to ship their themes. “I’m Your Man” might not break the mould, however it operates inside it with confidence and beauty.

Maren Eggert, an actor prize winner at Berlin, performs Alma, a employee on the type of museum that struggles to search out funding (which is mainly all museums in 2021). An archaeologist on the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Alma has the type of job that offers her distinctive experience in how folks have (and haven’t) modified over generations of human existence. It’s additionally type of a lonely career, particularly currently for Alma. Her ex-partner Julian (Hans Löw) nonetheless works in her subject, including to some melancholy, and her solely actual companion in life is her father (Wolfgang Hübsch), who’s succumbing extra to dementia day by day. Her boss Roger (Failou Seck) encourages her to take part in a daring new challenge concerning human companionship so as to get hold of extra funding for her work and since, nicely, she’s the one single candidate, and the challenge? It is testing out an android boyfriend.

A suspiciously cheery facilitator (the nice Sandra Hüller) introduces Alma to Tom (Dan Stevens of “The Visitor” and “Downtown Abbey” fame, talking German with a slight British accent as a result of Alma likes “unique” males however not too unique), who’s a dream man. Tom meets Alma at an occasion that appears designed to intensify romantic emotions. Lovely {couples} dance within the background as Tom woos Alma. It is all a façade. The {couples} are holograms and Tom is an android, particularly designed to satisfy all of Alma’s wants. And but the dynamic feels nearly too excellent proper from this rom-com set-up. Nobody needs a companion who breaks down how the chance of a automotive accident improves if the driving force adjusts her chair a bit. He’s proper. He’s protecting. He’s boring.

There’s one thing splendidly childlike about Stevens right here as he dials down his pure charisma ever so barely whereas nonetheless understanding why he can be a mannequin for an ideal male companion. Tom has a childlike surprise as if he senses he’s not fairly getting it proper with Alma, attempting to regulate to his companion’s wants with every change. There’s an awesome line about his disconnect with the world in “He’s by no means understood, but he understands all the things.” When he says one thing that doesn’t get the programmed response, he is aware of it, however Stevens doesn’t go broad with that dynamic, nearly making him right into a basic straight man, wanting sideways at a world he’s attempting to grasp.

Eggert is even higher, taking what may have been a generic rom-com main girl and making her way more advanced than that. Not solely is Alma hesitant to open up even to a non-human companion, however “I’m Your Man” turns into most fascinating because it begins to look at how maybe know-how hasn’t all the time been the perfect factor for humanity. We’ve got this assumption that each tech development can also be an evolutionary one. Possibly not. Eggert completely balances Alma’s mental skepticism with the feelings that this compelled relationship begins to deliver up in her, with out making these into basic rom-com clichés. Actually, what begins with a set-up for a comparatively predictable comedy will get extra poignant and sophisticated in its ultimate act in very rewarding methods.

As Tom begins to unpack Alma’s emotional baggage, he helps make clear how her imperfections are important. She describes her ache as banal and pathetic, and his response is one in all 2021’s greatest: “It’s pathetic. Your ache is pathetic as a result of it’s relative. Nevertheless it’s additionally not pathetic, as a result of it’s a part of you, and that’s why I like it.” So many motion pictures are about loving one another’s magnificence and beauty—“I’m Your Man” turns into about how we’ve got to like one another’s pathetic ache too, and, extra importantly, we’ve got to like our personal. What’s extra human than that?

This overview was initially filed from the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition on September fifteenth. The movie opens theatrically in restricted launch on September 24th.

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