Cast: Anne Hathaway, Robert De Niro, Rene Russo, Adam DeVine, Andrew Rannells, Zack Pearlman
Nancy Meyers makes everything look so warm and beautiful that for a minute you are so engrossed in the aesthetics of the film rather than the film itself; but she usually pulls you back into the heartwarming story through her pristine narration. The Intern is not very different, except that it is not a gooey romantic film but one that centers on the relationship of a 70 year old retired widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) who experiences chronic feelings of emptiness and 30 something tech savvy, micromanaging, entrepreneur Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).
Ben is lonely and is desperately seeking to fill the hollowness within with something exciting, which is when he chances upon a senior intern program at a happening e-commerce portal called About the Fit. Ben is assigned to the founder herself, an overworked, multitasking, ambitious lady who rides around her office in a bicycle (to save time?) and personally sits on customer relationship calls herself. She is absent minded to the extent that she is unaware about the intern program.
The film encapsulates the generational conflict through earnest humour – Ben is old school, methodical, he wears a tie and a suit, leaves work only when the boss does and is technologically challenged. He is trying to adjust to the sneaker-wearing, instagramobsessed young’uns around him. But the kids also learn something from the simple, hardworking, “company” man while they orient him into Facebook and fist bumps.
At first, Jules is almost apathetic towards the idea of the intern program, she doesn’t even know what to do with him. But Ben’s Zen-like calmness and sincerity are hard to resist even to an indifferent boss like Jules. De Niro is fantastic as Ben, he carries off the “old at age but young at heart” role with such poise. But, at the heart of the film is Hathaway, as you watch her being the quirky, absent-minded go-getter, you want to be her. But make no mistake, when she struggles to manage time between her company and her family (her stay at home husband and adorable daughter), you most definitely feel sad for her.
There is nothing over the top about The Intern, which is a good thing– the humour is gentle and the plot doesn’t get melodramatic even when “shit hits the ceiling” for Jules both in her personal and professional accounts. The second half might have gotten a little too long in a very “what next?” sort of way but the film is still more than ordinary, where Meyer takes you along on a beautiful journey of new age work culture and familial relationships.
The placid irony of how an old age man, who you would think is conservative, appears as a guardian angel only to make a young, successful woman understand that “you can indeed have it all” is very heartening and optimistic.
Verdict: Romance doesn’t always have to be at the epicenter of a gentle comedy to enjoy it and The Intern is a true testament to that.