I’m your man by Maria Schrader – Berlinale review

I’m your man by Maria Schrader – Berlinale review

Alma is a scientist at the famous Pergamon Museum in Berlin. In order to obtain research funds for her studies, she accepts an offer to participate in an extraordinary experiment. For three weeks, she is to live with a humanoid robot whose artificial intelligence has been designed to allow it to morph into that of her ideal life partner. Enter Tom, a machine in (handsome) human form, created to make her happy. What ensues is a tragicomic tale that explores notions of love, longing and what makes us human.

The multi-talented Maria Schrader, winner of a Silver Bear for acting and an accomplished filmmaker, has adapted a story by Emma Braslavsky and infused it with the suggestive forces of cinema. Displaying a deep understanding of acting chemistry, she aptly casts and directs her leading pair, who make an amusingly unnatural, failed match. But what more fertile terrain can there be than to study the frisson between analysis and feeling?

It’s not that often that we see a sci-fi film on a big Festival, but this year’s Berlinale had one that is really worth the shot. In I’m your man, Maria Schrader is showing us all that she moved into the role of the filmmaker for good after the Netflix hit series Unorthodox. The concept of a human-like machine that will fulfil our sentimental but also carnal needs, is not new, but it’s mostly met in cinema either as a comedic element in comedies and rom-coms or in pure sci-fi films that usually omit the dramatic and philosophical viewpoint. This is exactly what the film tries to convey by making Alma the sceptic that never thinks this machine-romantic companion thing is going to work. From those early views, we will experience how the “machine” adapts to better succeed in its purpose in a way that Alma finally questions those views and ultimately the unthinkable happens: she falls in love with the machine. A feeling that both satisfy her, but also scares her in an existential level.

What is finally true love? Can it exist when the one partner is a machine? Does this notion makes the human part of the relation a lunatic or a visionary?  What is the meaning of being human? Questions that Alma, but also us along her, try to figure out. Some hard questions that the film tries to touch, without becoming philosophical or abstract but instead by focusing on its characters and the originality of their feelings.

The acting duo (Maren Eggert and Dan Stevens) gives amazing performances, with Eggert winning the (newly non gender specific) Best Actor/Actress award of the 71st Berlinale. Schrader accompanies those two performances with an equally impressive supporting cast that includes Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, Requem) and fills the setting with the Berlin city center, skyline and the Pergamon museum. 

Grade: 4/5

by Maria Schrader
with Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch
Country: Germany
Year: 2021
Runtime: 105’

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