What defines the ideal romantic relationship and why, as humans, do we desire perfection so much?
Part science fiction / part romantic comedy, director Maria Schrader‘s terrific “I’m Your Man” is a thoughtful and smart film about a researcher named Alma (Maren Eggert) who is tapped to participate in a societal study by living with humanoid robot Tom (Dan Stevens) for a month. The ridiculously handsome Tom is, by design, Alma’s ideal mate. He’s literally the tailor-made life partner she’s always dreamed of. What should be the greatest few weeks of Alma’s existence become a sobering eye-opener as she realizes that life isn’t about perfection, but it’s experiencing the ups and downs, joy and sorrow, and all those unpleasant aspects balanced with the euphoria of existence that gives meaning to what it means to truly live.
Shrader and Jan Schomburg‘s smart screenplay (based on a short story by Emma Braslavsky) takes a provocative concept and raises interesting points about human feeling, connection, and emotion. In the story, humanoid robots and even holograms replace a person’s need for a real partner. These artificial significant others often seem better than the real thing because they make people happy. For every person like Alma who struggles with the illusion, there are several more who have found pure bliss, and with that a meaning and purpose to their lives. The script explores the repercussions of manufactured happiness, and the realities of having a dream partner built to your exact specifications.
There’s so much memorable material here, and the film embodies many feminist ideas. Some of the strongest parts of the story come when Alma grows increasingly irritated with Tom because he always says and does the right things. He exists solely to please her with an algorithm designed to make her happy. While Tom is programmed to know what 93% of women want, it doesn’t matter to Alma when she’s part of the 7% who desire something different. He may know the mathematical statistics of female desires, but he does not know her. Eggert thoroughly captures these feelings of frustration in her perceptive, refined performance.
“I’m Your Man” concludes that we don’t really desire perfection after all, because the need for human connection comes from an authentic partnership — not one created in code.
This film was screened for review at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival.
By: Louisa Moore