- Golden Globe Awards
I’m Your Man (Germany)
As the film opens, Alma Felser, played by Maren Eggert, enters a bar that is reminiscent of a 1920s ballroom if not for the people dressed in modern-day outfits. Alma is on a date. Or so it seems. A clean-cut man with a perfect physique matching perfect cheekbones and, most of all, perfect manners, asks her to dance. It is there, on the dancefloor, that something strange happens. He gets stuck mid-sentence and mid headshake. Tom, played by Dan Stevens speaking perfect German with a tinge of an English accent, is a robot.
Alma flees the scene despite being assured by the woman running the establishment that what she witnessed was just a glitch. “You cannot believe how complicated it is to program a flirt,” she explains, having watched Tom’s cringe-worthy attempt at a pick-up line before the malfunction. “Your eyes are like mountain lakes I want to sink into” is not exactly what makes a woman swoon.
We learn that Alma is an archeologist working at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. She is desperate to raise funds for her research project. This is why she decided to participate in a very unusual study: living with a humanoid robot for three weeks. She wants to evaluate his ability to become the man every woman ever dreamed of. He is supposed to be the type of life partner tailored to her specific character, secret wishes, daily needs. Despite her misgivings, Alma returns to the ballroom the following night and takes a newly repaired Tom home with her.
Not surprisingly all goes wrong as the harsh and hardened Alma, who first thinks that the whole idea cannot be taken seriously, discovers that Tom’s algorithm includes a fascinating learning ability. When confronted by Alma’s very human irrational behavior, Tom adjusts. He is even capable of showing real anger when she pushes him to his emotional limit. Lead actress Maren Eggert received the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin film festival for her portrayal of Alma in a story that is mostly a romance, albeit a melancholic one. It raises questions about relationships and the meaning of being human in this day and age.
I’m Your Man is written and directed by Maria Schrader. At the Berlin festival, she talked about how she came across the idea for her new film: “It started out as a short story which, I heard, was supposed to be turned into a film. I didn’t know more about the subject than the basic description of ‘woman meets robot man.’ It sounded like a classic boy-meets-girl romance, only the other way round. This sparked fantasies and interest in me right away because the machine, for once, was not the woman.” Interestingly, the original German title fits the story much more accurately than the translation – Ich Bin Dein Mensch could be understood as ‘I Am Your Human.
Schrader started her career as an actress, became a star in Europe with the Doris Dörrie comedy Nobody Loves Me (1994) and starred in the international hit TV-series Deutschland 83 (2015, the first German-language series broadcast on US television. She was born in Hannover and studied acting at the famous Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. She went on to play one of the two leads in the Golden Globe-nominated Aimée & Jaguar (1999), and then went behind the camera and was nominated for Best Director at the German Film Awards for Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe about the famous Austrian author. She also won a Primetime Emmy for directing the acclaimed series Unorthodox last year. Lead actress Maren Eggert received the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin film festival for her portrayal of Alma.