Review by Sean Boelman
Maria Schrader’s romantic comedy I’m Your Man is hardly the first film to explore the idea of falling in love with an artificial intelligence, but its very modern approach to the concept is very refreshing. Offering brilliant world-building and some surprisingly excellent commentary but grounded by two great performances,
Based on a short story by Emma Braslavsky, the film follows a woman who agrees to participate in an experiment testing a robot designed to adapt to her desires and become the perfect partner. It’s a simple rom-com set-up with a sci-fi twist, but what makes the script by Schrader and Jan Schomburg stand out is how insightful it is.
There are discussions of the obvious themes, like our flaws making us who we are and how love isn’t finding the perfect partner, but the parts of the film that really resonate are those that discuss the idea of loneliness. Whereas a lot of romantic comedies dismiss loneliness as the female character not being with a man, Schrader’s film explores it for the more complicated situation it is.
Schrader and Schomburg should be applauded for deconstructing a lot of romantic comedy archetypes. The protagonist starts out a bit conventionally — a career-focused woman who opens her heart to love — but becomes much more complex over the course of the film. And the love interest isn’t your typical Mr. Perfect eye candy.
As is the case with a lot of films adapted from short stories, the first act or so is setting up the world, filled with a lot of exposition, and the final two-thirds are where the filmmaker is really able to go free. Schrader and Schomburg take this intriguing concept and manage to make something genuinely funny and romantic out of it that will easily keep the viewer’s attention.
Maren Eggert and Dan Stevens have phenomenal chemistry together, and they make for two great leads. Stevens impresses in a German-language role, bringing his typical charm and comedic timing to the character. Eggert’s performance is nuanced and adds a further layer of emotion to the story.
There are also some really interesting things going on in the film visually. Although this isn’t in some heavily futuristic utopia, there are enough details in the production design and cinematography to give it a slightly futuristic feel. And the color scheme of the film gives it a lovely quirky tone.
I’m Your Man is a great romantic comedy, and even though it may not have been the first out of the gate, it’s authentic perspective is enjoyable. This is the type of intelligent but entertaining foreign film that has the potential to break out on a global scale.
I’m Your Man is now screening as a part of the Berlinale Industry Event, running virtually from March 1-5, 2021.