Fresh from its debut at Berlinale International Film Festival, unconventional romantic comedy Ich bin dein Mensch (I’m Your Man) is a breath of fresh air. Charming Dan Stevens speaking in German was reason enough to watch, but I found a shockingly tender, beautiful character drama contained within. Stevens and co-star Maren Aggert have a quietness to their chemistry that sneaks up on you. By the film’s midway point, I was rooting for their relationship to thrive. Though nearly every beat of the actual narrative is as predictable as you’d expect, the movie has a deeper meaning behind it that really spoke to me on a personal level.
To fund her studies into ancient cuneiform, researcher Alma (Maren Eggert) agrees to take in robot Tom (Dan Stevens) for a strict research period of three weeks. Tom is literally made to please her, right down to a British voice ‘because she’s attracted to someone slightly foreign.’ Tom makes every attempt to woo the pessimistic Alma, as he tries to break down her defenses, and coax her to fall for his advances.
Dan Stevens as a robot is weirdly perfect casting. Tom is like the real-life version of a Sims character, and Stevens plays to the furthest extreme you’d desire. He immediately has a glitch within the first five minutes to comical effect. If your idea of a fun time is a hot bath surrounded by rose petals, strawberries, and a bottle of champagne, this robot has you covered. Maren Eggert’s Alma isn’t the most likable character at first. She leaves Tom outside in the rain for several hours as she goes off to work, and barely seems to care when she returns. Another scene where she tries to make moves on Tom in her drunken anger, and arouses him with her kisses reveals her character to be deeply flawed. She’s convinced that he may be too perfect for her. Their chemistry grows the same way it does in the film: very gradually. The two characters feel tailor-made to be together.
I’m still not entirely sure how I felt about the ambiguous ending. It left me with a lot to think about when the credits rolled, including how much easier our lives would be if we were just handed everything we desired. Though it would certainly be a simpler kind of world to live in through the conveniences of technology, I’m not sure that it’s necessarily better. The film calls for big questions about technology, life improvements, the true meaning of love and desire, and especially whether we would still have our humanity if we lived in coexistence with robots. I’m not sure this sticks the landing, yet I couldn’t help but fall for this richly-developed human/robot love connection. Ich bin dein Mensch (I’m Your Man) played as part of the 71st Berlinale International Film Festival.