Starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, this film far exceeded my expectations; not that I expected anything different from such fantastic actors. It’s inspiring and uplifting, with the perfect amount of heartbreak and humour. It’s been three days since I saw the film, and I’m still reeling from the emotional rollercoaster I was put through.
De Niro plays Ben Whitaker, a retired 70-year-old looking to spice up his monotonous life with something new. That spice just so happens to be a senior’s (as in senior citizen) intern program for an up-and-coming online clothing business, headed by the awe-inspiring Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). Since Ben isn’t your typical younger, inexperienced intern, a lot of your usual internship don’t really work out, such as “where do you see yourself in ten years?” and “what was your major?” followed by “do you remember?”. Ben, however, handles himself at all times with pride, respect, patience and concern—just what the doctor ordered for Jules.
While The Intern isn’t particularly unique, it does everything extremely well, complete with fantastic scripting, acting and visuals. There’s an art to simplicity; and this film achieves that perfectly. Really, it’s the characters who make this film worth while. As an audience, we can relate to their struggles. It’s comforting to know we aren’t alone in the issues we face, whether that be sexism, ageism, death or broken relationships.
Jules, for example. She’s a ground-breaking character; a pillar of dedication, strength, and determination; she shows kindness and concern for her employees and customers, truly going above and beyond. This is such an important message to send to young people; that gender should be irrelevant in one’s ability to be successful, and that with a a great work ethic, anything can be achieved. In the first nine months of creating her business, she met her five-year goal, and went from 25 to over 200 staff members. And she’s a fun, quirky character who makes working hard cool. After all, she rides a bicycle through her office, complete with a coffee cup holder. Genius. Jules Ostin isn’t an unreachable character for the audience to relate to–she’s like you and me, and that doesn’t stop her from breaking glass ceilings. In a world so dominated by masculinity and blatant sexism, Jules is an inspiration. Go, Anne Hathaway! Girl power!
And it’s not all perfect success; things go wrong. Her misogynistic investors want to replace her as CEO in favour for someone a little more “seasoned”: in other words, an older man. They try to convince her she can’t juggle work and family life like a man can, and she almost believes them. But then Ben Whitaker saves the day with his old-world charm, and caring demeanour. He’s like the perfect cup of tea. He’s the father you may not have ever had, the grandfather who offered you advice without judgement, and the best friend who offered a shoulder to cry on. De Niro’s acting makes Ben such an empathetic, relatable and comforting character. He encourages everyone to do the right thing, and try their best; even if it isn’t easy. From Jules’s drunk chauffeur, to co-workers with lady problems, to cheating husbands: Ben can fix it all. His best tips? Breathe deeply. Take some me-time. Talk to people in person, and talk to them honestly, but most importantly: believe in yourself—because no one knows you as well as you. These characters resonate with your daily life and inspire you. They show you no matter how bad things are, and no matter how hard things get, there is a solution, there is life after, and everything will be okay in the end.
The Intern also tackles some pretty complicated themes, from the invisibility of the elderly who still have music left inside them and a wealth of knowledge, to working mothers.
“It’s 2015, are we really still critical of working mums?” Ben asks.
Indeed, we are. Jules, when not being a superstar businesswoman, is also a mum to her young daughter, Paige. Her husband, Matt, quit his job in marketing in order to be a stay-at-home dad. On the surface, this works; until he cheats on her repeatedly with a woman from Paige’s school, who is part of a group who constantly knocks Jules from following her career dreams that so many women give up. Matt confesses, apologises profusely about how he lost himself, and now he’s ready to be a real man—as if that was a valid excuse. This is the only part of the film that enraged me. What kind of message are we sending when this particular man is so emasculated by his badass, bread-winning wife, that he has to sleep around in order to validate his manhood? Talk about toxic masculinity. And the worst part about all this: she takes him back. SHE TAKES HIM BACK. It’s not like it was a one-time thing—he was cheating on her for months, knowing it was wrong, and still did it anyway. But oh, throw a few compliments and lovey-dovey words in there, and everything is fine and dandy. Matt, you’re a jerk face. This would have totally ruined the film for me if the actors weren’t so great. Most of us know what it’s like to be cheated on, and having to re-live it through these characters was utterly heartbreaking. Cudos for the fantastic acting. I’m still heart-broken. But then, Jules did what she thought was best for her. She stands up for what she believes in, fights for what she loves, and is willing to fix something that’s broken, rather than throwing it away. That sounds like a hell of a lot of strength to me. Matt is still a jerk face, though.
The most important lesson from this film is to not give up, and that’s a pretty inspiring message. Don’t be hindered by the hard choices, don’t be afraid to do the hard work, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Try new things. Try old things. Do whatever makes you happy, and don’t be defined by societal expectations on age and gender. Smash those expectations. I believe in you.
Overall, it was a great movie—it left me wanting more. So I guess the writers did their job. The movie has also earned $107.8 million at the Box Office worldwide, with a budget of around $40,000; so they must be doing something right. It’s witty, it’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, and it’s inspiring—and you won’t regret watching it.