I’m Your Man review: Clever and unconventional rom-com
Cathy Brennan | On 15, Aug 2021
Director: Maria Schrader
Cast: Dan Stevens, Maren Eggert
Where to watch I’m Your Man online in the UK: Curzon Home Cinema / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / CHILI
What if an algorithm could create the perfect romantic partner? That is the initial premise of Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man, but dig a little deeper and it offers so much more. Middle-aged academic Alma (Maren Eggert) is to trial one of a new series of relationship robots tailored to be a user’s perfect match. According to the data, Tom (Dan Stevens) is exactly what Alma wants. Smart and cynical, Alma initially treats Tom as a machine, relegating him to the spare room in her flat. However, as time goes on, she begins to open up to him.
The film gets off to a rocky start with an opening scene that takes place in a chintzy ballroom filled with dancing holograms. There’s a looming sense that I’m Your Man is going to be a second-rate Black Mirror episode. However, it gradually becomes clear that the film is not interested in probing the ethical dilemmas thrown up by technology. Rather, as the sci-fi malarkey melts away into the background, the film finds its confidence and delivers a smart yet gentle rumination on the function of romantic relationships.
The casting of English actor Dan Stevens as the robot Tom in this German-language film recalls Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin and Steven Yeun in Burning, where a recognisable Hollywood face is placed outside of Tinseltown to emphasise their otherness. Yet while Johansson and Yeun’s foreignness in those films are meant to be read as creepy, Stevens’ air of difference is a charming quirk that offsets his oftentimes tactless roboticism. It’s a clever inversion.
Stevens may be the performance that catches the eye, but it is Eggert’s turn as Alma that holds the heart of the film. She’s a guarded woman who, over the course of the film’s runtime, reveals innumerable facets of her personality. An early scene of Alma people-watching in a cafe wordlessly conveys her anxieties in a brief amount of time.
There’s also a fun small role for Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller as an employee at the company that produced Tom. She functions as a hybrid of corporate salesperson and couples therapist, whose sunny disposition irritates the knowing Alma.
As the film delves deeper into Alma’s personal life through her relationship with Tom, the film begins to tackle perennial themes of ageing and loneliness. We come to learn about Alma’s complicated relationship with her ex and with her father, who is living with dementia. To Schrader’s credit, she keeps the tone breezy through soft lighting and a laidback score, crafting a calm space for the audience to engage with these weighty topics.
Despite a weak beginning, I’m Your Man proves itself to be a thoroughly likeable watch. It will make a good date movie for couples looking for something clever and a bit unconventional.