The Intern Review
Warning: this film contains content that may result in individuals having the desire to hug pensioners
The Intern gives back a little faith in Hollywood’s studio system.Witty and reflective at the same time, the film manages intelligence and humour gracefully. Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro make a fantastic duo, whilst the characters they embody bring a fresh, 21st century outlook to film. The trailer was good. The music was better. The writing was great. And the film was truly excellent. Not many cinematic endeavors can inhabit a myriad of different spaces at once. The Intern managed just that.De Niro’s Ben is a retired, well-traveled widower of 70; his life isn’t over, but the world continues to move forward, and Ben is ready to dive back in. Meet Jules (Hathaway), the CEO of an overnight success, e-commerce start-up. Selling clothes online never looked so good, and Jules is committed to her passion project. A relationship between the two seems unlikely, but what develops is an invaluable bond, breaching preconceived notions about age.
There are several notable achievements in the film. First Ben is the cool kid on the playground. The young, hip 20-somethings at the remodeled industrial office find his practical experience and advice sage wisdom. In the era of instant and mobile communication, Ben’s direct, personal approach seems obvious but genuinely overlooked. I’d personally like to hear his opinion on Tinder.
Secondly The Intern makes your heart laugh. This is definitely a humour based on differences, but it’s so well done. When Ben is being interviewed, some of his questions include “What was your major at university? Do you remember?” My personal favourite was “Now this trips up a lot of people, so really take some time to think about it... Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” Ben handles the rather silly process like a trooper, and we know the whole scene is in good fun; instead of suggesting the older crowd is outdated, it rather highlights how dependent young adults are on their own generation’s world views.
Thirdly Anne Hathaway’s Jules is a badass, cool, hot mess of a successful modern woman. She’s married to a stay-at-home dad, who takes great care of their primary school daughter. She’s got a few chips on her shoulder, but the beauty of her flaws are the reality they reflect. Women are amazing, sometimes awe-inspiring, creatures. They are so capable, and yet still live with varying degrees of sexism. The film addresses this, not just in the workplace, but in life. When marital problems arise, there’s an immense scene between Ben and Jules, which leads me to...
The Intern makes your heart laugh - it's humour based on differences but it's so well done.
The writing, which is bloody incredible. The scene I referred to above is easy to compare to authentic dialogue. Ladies, you’ll like this. Jules is struggling with what we call in academia “choice” feminism. I promise I’m not going nose-up on this, it’s basically a fancy term explaining the evolution of feminism. First it was about getting the vote, then about gender equality, working outside the home, having a life outside the typical setup. In the ‘80s feminism’s goals split off, going a bit extreme in its goals to raise women’s influence. We’re currently in the “third-wave” of feminism, where women are simply asking to have the right to choose what’s best for them: progressive living, traditional, or a mix of the two. Progressive in its representations, The Intern even gives Ben a liberal yet traditional attitude towards women. He even suggests he’s a feminist verbatim. Jules responds with an account of her marital situation and the complex challenges she faces whilst finding a solution. Their conversation is raw, and it reflects real life and actual problems.
I could add so much more, like how much I love that Ben’s better at technology than society gives pensioners credit for, or how the plot layers and times itself perfectly, letting us in on what we need to know when (and only when) we need to know it, or how I felt like clapping when the credits began to roll. And I didn’t even mention the hilarious supporting cast or the Ocean’s 11-inspired heist.
Leaving the cinema, I felt good in myself but also good about what film is still capable of doing: telling captivating stories with lessons and morals. Ben becomes the mentor, and Jules gives Ben purpose again. It’s a beautiful exchange, and so telling about the value of older people’s life experience.
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