Germany’s entry for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards, “I’m Your Man,” tells the story of Alma (Maren Eggert), a scientist who accepts an offer to participate in an experiment in which she lives with a humanoid robot named Tom (Dan Stevens) that has been created to make her happy. The comedy was written and directed by Emmy winner Maria Schrader (“Unorthodox”) who was inspired to tell a more simple story than she had in the past.
“My project before took so long and was so much research with so many characters,” Schrader admits. “This one seemed to be so interesting because it’s the classical boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Boy is not a boy, boy is a robot. You can create a tale about love. You can work along a romantic comedy narrative and, at the same time, irritate it right from the start. You don’t know if you want to hope for Alma to fall in love with a machine.”
Scripting the film also posed new challenges for Schrader. “It asks questions we, as writers, didn’t really have answers ready yet,” she explains. “Are humans able to start a relationship with a machine? With a very advanced robot? Is there something like a true feeling? Is a performed feeling something less worth? It was just so interesting to start thinking about this.”
Those who have seen the film have already started debating whether “the perfect partner” in robot form sounds like a dream come true or a horrific nightmare. It’s a discussion Schrader is thrilled to have started. “We are not so far away from it,” she shares. “We are dealing with artificial intelligence in so many areas of our life already. It feels like we’re heading there. Humanoid robots being so well designed that we can hardly distinguish them from people. I would instantly be saying, ‘Oh my God, never!’ but that is also so interesting.”
For Schrader, writing and directing a comedy was great fun. “To start with this blind date,” she explains. “To have this old-fashioned ballroom, two people meet and you really don’t know who is more weird. She of course knows who she will be meeting so she’s prepared with this catalog of questions. He is programmed with flirting tools and compliments. It’s this bizarre mixture of masculinity and complete naivety.”
Schrader won a Primetime Emmy Award for directing the Netflix limited series “Unorthodox” in 2020. She won Best Director at the German Film Awards for “I’m Your Man” in 2021.
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