The Intern: An unorthodox chemistry in a unique placid movie
Director cum screenwriter Nancy Meyers, who previously directed female-oriented movies and comfy comedies such as Private Benjamin (1980), Baby Boom (1987), What Women Want (2000), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), and It’s Complicated (2009), is once again back with a combination of sturdy themes – a story with dramatic issues in a buoyant mood.
This year, she brings us a thoughtful subject with an unorthodox chemistry in a unique placid movie – The Intern.
The plot is a true portrayal of Meyers’s directorial style with essential parts. For instance, accomplished woman’s struggle in the high-tech world and the stresses it puts on her relationships. This time, it is also about a 70-year-old methodical intern father figure.
It all begins when Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a well-mannered widower who retired from a corporate career in Brooklyn applies for a senior internship vacancy at a fast-growing e-commerce fashion company, run by the stressed but triumphant founder and CEO, Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Jules is married to an ineffectual stay-at-home husband Matt (Anders Holm), who left his job in order to support his wife’s ambitions. They live in a beautifully decorated brownstone with their young daughter.
Rigorously tidy in his suits, equipped with a dry cleaned pocket handkerchief and the wisdom of years, Ben gets hired as Jules’s assistant. Soon all the young male employees at the company can’t help but get attracted towards him due to his warm-hearted nature.
The more Ben apprehends the truth about his boss, the more he appreciates and compliments the sacrifices she has made for her business. The workaholic CEO eventually starts to like her obedient and devoted senior intern for his supportive routine and happily admits,
“Well I was going to say intern slash best friend...”
As an intelligent and charming workmate, Ben proves to be a good, confident fellow, who is armed with life experiences to assist and comfort the boss in making decisions sensibly. It may be the company’s future appointment of the new CEO or her own life, as a fairy godfather, he helps Jules take every step wisely and patiently.
The tranquil association between Ben and Jules is the adhesive clutching the main theme of the movie. It is about the older generation mingling with the younger generation and sharing ideologies with each other. Meyers’s script summaries a poignant rapport between an old gentleman and an ambitious young entrepreneur in the 21st century atmosphere, while maintaining the light moments and melodramatic aspect in an old-fashioned manner. The moderate pace preserves it from utter boredom and the light-hearted dialogues saved the movie from a total collapse.
The two Academy Award winners, De Niro and Hathaway, created a rock hard blend of warm attachment purely based on mutual respect and turns out to be the movie’s heart and soul. De Niro maintains the equilibrium between earnestness and severity of attitude. With lots of nodding and smiling faces, he performs a cautious, kind, well-mannered man. His deep trance stare portrays Ben as a good observant, who has compassion and at the same time some disappointment for the young generation, particularly for their sentimental frustrations, needless blunders and limitless deception.
On the other hand, Hathaway grips the character’s rigidness and vulnerabilities with equivalent composure. She tries her best to interpret the darker shade of suffering, particularly when Jules goes through the crisis period of marriage and work. She adds some great hues of humour and hysteria in her role as well.
Taking everything into account, The Intern is a flimsy entertainment kept alive by the leading characters’ solid presence. The feminist tilt of the screenplay touched many subjects such as relationships, careers, and marriage without proposing much intuition through its light funny situations – whereas the melodrama is bolstered by the emotive alliance of De Niro and Hathaway.
At the end of the day, director Nancy Meyers does not quite deliver what we expected, it is the two brilliant actors who save the day here. The abrupt alteration from the comedic element in the first half to the fast melodramatic second half, with pointless interludes is so half-baked that it ends up damaging what could have been a thoroughly fascinating movie.
On the contrary, keeping these flaws aside, The Intern is a fairly nice movie to keep you glued to the screen on a lazy weekend evening.
Based on De Niro and Hathaway’s cordial and appealing performances, I would rate the movie 2.5 out of five.
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