Ich bin dein Mensch [I’m Your Man] (2021)

Ich bin dein Mensch
Director: Maria Schrader
Writer: Jan Schomburg, Maria Schrader
Based on: Emma Braslavsky‘s short story
Cast: Maren Eggert, Dan Stevens, Sandra Hüller, Hans Löw, Wolfgang Hübsch, Annika Meier, Falilou Seck, Jürgen Tarrach, Henriette Richter-Röhl
Seen on: 25.6.2021

Plot:
Alma (Maren Eggert) is a scientist specialized in cuneiform. To secure funding for her research, she has agreed to participate in another experiment, despite her doubts about it: she is one of several scientists testing humanoid robots by living with them and seeing whether they can become actual romantic partners for humans. Her robot is Tom (Dan Stevens). Specifically designed for her, he is supposed to stay with her for three weeks. But with Alma’s resistance against the idea, Tom has his work cut out for himself.

Ich bin dein Mensch is an entertaining film with fantastic performances that discusses a topic that may not be entirely new, but still gets a fresh and thought-provoking spin here.

The film poster showing Alma (Maren Eggert) and Tom (Dan Stevens) lying next to each other. Tom is repeated,  into infinity.

The question at the heart of Ich bin dein Mensch is less “can we fall in love with a machine”, and more “what happens when we fall in love with machines”, acknowledging the deeply social and empathic nature of humans (that so often gets forcefully un-taught and removed in out society). We have no problems assigning machines personalities and engaging with them as persons even when they aren’t as advanced as Tom. So, of course Alma will fall for Tom, even despite herself. But should she? Should we, as a society, give up on the imperfections of human-human relationships and go for the more perfect human-android ones? Is there maybe a healing element in being accepted so completely as the robots accept their humans?

The film doesn’t give us definite answers. In fact, part of the ambiguity of the German title gets lost in its English translation: Ich bin dein Mensch, literally “I am your human” is gender-neutral, could be referring to as much Alma and Tom – who is whose human here? And isn’t that always the question when we enter relationships, don’t we start belonging to each other? In any case, it’s fun to think about.

Alma (Maren Eggert) and Tom (Dan Stevens) dancing.

That is certainly a special feature of the film: despite the big questions that are raised and that could, potentially, weigh the entire film down, it is fun and light and entertaining all the way through, even when things get tougher. And a huge part of that are Eggert and Stevens, their chemistry and their performances. Eggert’s Alma is messy, complicated and abrasive in a way that women rarely get to be on screen, and still be allowed to be charming and warm. And Stevens is “off” in the perfect way to never let us forget that Tom is not human, but never makes it into a clichéd stiffness. His German is also very impressive (not accent-free, which is explained in the perfect way in the film).

In short, I really enjoyed the film. It feels like one of the richest films in a while – rich in content, atmosphere, characters and humor. It makes me wish all films were like it.

Tom (Dan Stevens) standing in a historical museum, looking at ruins.

Summarizing: absolutely wonderful.

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