Maria Schrader, the lauded director of Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (2016) and Netflix limited series Unorthodox (2020), turns her hand to an adaptation of Emma Braslavsky’s short story, Ich bin dein Mensch, with an intriguing premise; that a humanoid robot invested with artificial intelligence may prove more adaptable and attuned a partner in love than an inevitably fallible human.
A research scientist at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum, Alma (Maren Eggert), is persuaded to participate in a colleague’s experiment in order to secure funds for her own research. Despite misgivings, the divorced Alma must live with her humanoid robot, Tom, (Dan Stevens, in a pitch-perfect performance) for three weeks to evaluate his ability to make her happy. Despite a self-learning algorithm tailored to Alma’s character and needs, Tom’s (swoon-worthy) efforts are met with unyielding resistance from Alma. “93% of German women dream of this,” he gently protests when she fails to be wowed by the rose petal-strewn, candlelit bath he has run for her; “guess which group I belong to” comes Alma’s coolly dismissive reply.
Suspicious of the creeping vulnerability she begins to feel, Alma’s own internal dynamics eventually respond in ways that disarm and perplex her. Eggert received the Silver Bear Best Actor award at the 2021 Berlin Film Festival for her performance in Schrader’s nuanced, beguiling and gently humorous film, which also features Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, Sibyl) in a reliably scene-stealing supporting role as a relationship coach and advocate for Tom’s AI rights.
Roberta Ciabarra – Curator, Film
For more information visit ACMI