Coming from writer/director Maria Schrader and Bleecker Street comes the story of asking for the perfect man and then not knowing how to handle him with I’M YOUR MAN.
Alma (Maren Eggert) is a scientist who needs funds to continue her work and so she decides to volunteer to participate in an experiment with Tom (Dan Stevens). The catch is that Tom is very human looking robot who is designed to please Alma. From flowers to candlelight, Tom comes out guns blazing to try and make Alma happy.
The problem is Alma does not want to be that happy. Trying to avoid Tom at all costs, he tries to understand why she is behaving so coldly. After a few days, she begins to understand that she isn’t being very nice, even if Tom is not human. Bringing him around the people she knows, Tom is charming, intelligent and is enjoying it all.
Alma runs into Julian (Hans Low) and it is clear there is a history there that she has no desire to discuss with anyone, especially Tom. She does introduce him to co-workers, and they discuss the three-year research which fascinates him. But in a single moment, Tom has to tell Alma what he has discovered about her work!
All of it sends Alma into a tailspin of decisions and spewing of words that would make a mere mortal run for the hills. Tom takes it on the humanoid chin until the next morning when it is clear that cruel is too nice a word for how she had been treating him.
Deciding to get away from it all, Alma takes Tom to meet her family and father Felser (Wolfgang Hubsch). Time together, Alma sees that Tom truly wants to understand the human condition, but she also knows that continuing this experiment is to much for her. It is at that moment that she must decide how to move forward without letting emotions get in the way of a person that is not, in her mind, real.
How do you say goodbye?
Eggert as Alma is a woman on a mission, to get her research published and when she needs funding, agrees to something she really does not want to. From the moment she meets Tom, Eggert’s character gives us nothing to work with because she is giving up nothing when it comes to emotion. That is the amazing part about this character, showing nothing would seem like a robot’s way of expressing things. It takes time for Alma’s story to come out and Eggert makes darn sure to keep that tension up until we get our answers – brava!
Stevens as Tom is delightful, funny, sweet, innocent, and the target of some serious verbal human abuse. My jaw hit the ground with the way this character was being referred, I felt so horrible for him. Now there is genius, making me feel so emotionally horrible for – wait for it – a robot! For the longest I was more concerned about Tom than I was Alma, how is that for a twist? Stevens did that with such finesse and made it all look so easy. I am a big Stevens fan from way back and to watch him in this role is just everything uber cool.
Shout out to Low as Julian for bringing in the right amount of tension in a situation that humans would see as awkward but to Tom, it is a ‘here have a coffee’ kind of thing.
Other cast includes Falilou Sek as Dean Roger, Annika Meier as Cora, Henriette Richter-Rohl as Steffi, Inga Busch as Regina, Karolin Oesterling as Chloe, Marlene-Sophie Haagen as Jule and Gabriel Munoz as Mr. Barmann.
Bleecker Street is a New York City film company that has brought outstanding films to the public. Their library includes TRUMBO, DENIAL, THE LOST CITY OF Z, BEIRUT, HOTEL MUMBAI, ORDINARY LOVE and THE ROADS NOT TAKEN. For more information on the titles from Bleeker Street please visit www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com.
The film is in German, but it is the acting that makes it a wonderful film, even with subtitles. Premiering at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival, it was also selected for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards.
I’M YOUR MAN has so many levels to it, and I experienced all of them. First, it is ‘be careful what you ask for’ because Alma certainly got it. The problem was once she got it, she was not sure she wanted it or what to do with it. It was a trade off and me thinks we got the best of it with Tom! Another issue is trying to replace humanity to be happy. It is in Alma’s final assessment that she hits it straight on because I do not believe we, as humans, would know what to do with ourselves if happy 24/7 for the rest of our lives.
Tom teaches us a few lessons to in that the character is constantly being told that ‘it’ does not know how a human feels. Now emotionally that may be true but, when you take the emotions out of it and stare it straight in the face, Tom knows exactly why we constantly struggle. Alma just did not want to hear it.
The twist of it is that Alma acted more like a robot and Tom the ‘human’ with childlike wonderment and embracing what we take for granted. The switch is so interesting to watch play out because, as with any relationship, there are always twists whether we like it or not.
I’M YOUR MAN is such an enjoyable film and that is all because of writer/director Shrader, Eggert and Stevens without question. It is a different kind of romance, an unusual story of love, and coming to terms with why we allow our pasts to dictate the possibilities for happiness in the future. I could analyze the film all day!
In the end – what do you do when what you wanted stands right in from of you?