In a world governed by technological advances, authors and directors have long been fascinated with human’s relationships with artificial intelligence. Whether that’s Deckard falling for replicant Rachel in Ridley Scott’s iconic dystopian Blade Runner, John Connor’s endearing relationship with the Terminator or Theodore’s unconventional relationship with Samantha in Spike Jonze’s Her. While films featuring AI’s are often positioned as cautionary tales, I’m Your Man ditches the usual tropes to explore modern day dating in this quirky comedy.
Directed by Maria Schrader, I’m Your Man centres on esteemed archaeologist Alma (Maren Eggert), who accepts an offer to participate in an usual experiment in exchange for research funds. Agreeing to a three-week trial run of living with the humanoid Tom (Dan Stevens) who’s programmed to be her ideal life partner, she has to evaluate on the successes and failures of the AI prototype to help decide whether they should be introduced into society.
Quickly immersing us into a world with humanoids via a ‘singles night’ first date setup, Schrader amusingly juxtaposes Tom’s overriding desire to please with a distinctly unimpressed and relationship-adverse Alma. While amusingly getting to grips with sharing her flat with the humanoid, who has a certain penchant for making grand breakfasts and running atmospheric baths, Alma often dismisses and pushes him away. As the two spend more time together, Tom endearingly begins to chip away at Alma’s defensive wall, unravelling the emotional truths she’s afraid to confront.
Through the eyes of a naive and ever-learning Tom, Schrader explores the notions of love, regret and particularly societal expectations of women. As a single, middle aged female in the office with no children (following an emotional breakup), her boss jumps to an all too often conclusion that she should take on the trial. While primarily a character study, Schrader also briefly touches upon whether androids would deserve the same rights as us, as Alma’s views on the treatment of humanoids change.
There’s a real charm and wit to the rom-com-drama, thanks in part to the brilliant pairing of Eggert and Stevens. Dan Stevens is as charming as ever as the humanoid, with a constant puppy-like cheery expression. He brings an understated humour to the role, which appears to make Alma even more irate! Eggert is equally as fascinating, with an impressively layered and naturalistic performance balancing exasperation at Tom with a real sadness.
I’m Your Man is an endearing and tender look at modern dating and relationships, with an oddly funny performance from Dan Stevens. This is surprising witty rom-com treat from Berlin Film Festival.