In the age of winning individualism and influential algorithms, how can a young woman find true love? Freely inspired by a short story by Emma Braslavsky, German filmmaker Maria Schrader (with her co-screenwriter Jan Schomberg) imagines an experimental encounter between Alma, a linguist, and Tom, a humanitarian program to seduce her. Far from the classic scene in science fiction film where human-made robots turn against their creator, “I’m Your Man”, twists with unexpected retro, humor or sadness, goes from romantic comedy to fantasy with unexpected extensions. Outside of the stalemate in a relationship between a claimant researcher and a handsome Android kid, the disturbing experience serves as an indicator of the intimate wounds of a complex woman who has been dreaming of repeating the bliss of liberation from childhood.
The temptation of scientific experimentation and happiness
Strange bet for Alma (Maren Egart, fine play with infinite finesse), linguist specializing in deciphering Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In exchange for funding his research by a company specializing in artificial intelligence, he agreed to welcome a humanoid robot into his home for three weeks, capable of meeting his needs and fulfilling his desires. Holy Tour de Force especially since our heroine, in appearance, is characterized more by her sense of seriousness than by her desire for an ideal partner.
After the first one-on-one dinner at the restaurant that turns into a loophole (the poorly programmed ‘robot’ reacts very mechanically and has to get excited quickly), the thought comes to our mind that it’s a staging or fantasy. The unrealistic atmosphere and the quiet decor of the red swing make one think of a dysfunctional theater set!
Once more restored and more suited to the presumed aspirations of his future partner, Tom (Dan Stevens, the subtle interpreter of an animal with confusing mechanics) arrives in Alma and takes the initiative, as if the wishes had not been made. In the spacious, clean-tidy apartment, she cleans and tidies at an embarrassing pace, she tries her hand at humor and comfort … not laughing, she compares the beauty’s eyes to ‘two alpine lakes’ where she ‘wants to drown’ no doubt No, for the volunteer, overwhelmed by the consistency of his conversation (who naturally asks if they are both going to sleep in the same bed), it is risky to reduce the experience of intercourse.
Faced with such inconsistencies, Tom (whose high artificial intelligence shows an unexpected plasticity) no longer wants to tempt Alma. And this change creates other paradoxes. She rejects him when under the influence of alcohol she expresses the need for sexual intercourse. Further, he discovers a study from a scientific journal that raises extensive questions about the text that Alma and his colleagues are about to publish.
The limit of artificial intelligence, the infinite mystery of the human soul
Alma and Tom are actually continuing to experiment in other forms. During a farewell in the middle of nature, they come closer, even go as far as imagining a common past in terms of ‘donor’ motivation. Sketch a relationship and a love night gives the illusion of happiness.
Alma, next to Tom, meets his ex-partner, again in a relationship with a young woman, pregnant for him (although Alma was unable to go through her pregnancy during this ex-relationship). Alma decides to stop experimenting with Tom. However, from public disagreements to unusual reunions, Almar, who has been weakened by this publishing experience, has much more access to himself. Until found (but are we sure?) Tom, the strange human, in his first teenage love scene in Denmark.
The final shots, full of pity, sadness and mystery, however, put a veil over Alma’s secret wounds. The presence of a boy, his girlfriend lying next to him every time-a presence that disappears every time he opens his eyes, can make the heroine fall in love with extreme sensitivity and fertile imagination. A ‘man’ who does not exist, in harmony with his deepest aspirations, in the direction of world order and artificial intelligence. A fleeting vision in the care of a staging, strange and intrusive, creates a mental universe near David Lynch or Alfred Hitchcock, which is “Vertigo”. In this way we have managed to correct our view of “I am your man” as if the fiction as a whole has become a manifestation of a woman’s endless dream of liberation in absolute love. It is also a subtle definition of cinema.
“I’m Your Man”, Maria Schrader’s film – June 22, 2022 release
Maren Egartke Interpretation Award, Berlin Festival 2021