THE INTERN, US, 2015. Starring Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner. Directed by Nancy Myers. 121 minutes. Rated M. (No consumer advice given)
That was the thought continually coming up while watching this very nice film. If only life were a little more pleasant and like the characters and situations in this film, not that everything is perfect, but there is a great wish as well as efforts that life could be as perfect as possible.
One hopes that a younger audience will enjoy it, identifying with the charming Anne Hathaway as well as the young men who work in her company, an online fashion sales company, A Good Fit, that she founded and has prospered enormously in 18 months. Plenty to encourage enterprise in the younger generation.
But, this is a film mainly for the over 60s and, especially, the 70s and over. It is optimistic towards the older generation, wants to offer them possibilities for creative retirement, shows how they can draw on experience, and contribute on a business level and, especially, on a personal level at this stage of their lives.
Robert De Niro as Ben Whitaker has never been more genial, showing a good sense of humour as well as indicating that under the at times stern exterior, there is a heart of, as he says, mush! He explains himself, aged 70, widower after more than 40 years of marriage, having the taken all the opportunities for travel, sport and golf, new languages, hobbies, still has a great deal of energy and wants to fill that hole in his life. He also finds himself going to a lot of funerals. He notices an advertisement for senior interns, makes a video interview and is accepted.
Anne Hathaway portrays Jules Ostin, who had been very enterprising and started from scratch this online company, something of a workaholic, not remembering that she had approved the Seniors experiment and finding herself allotted Ben in order to be example for the rest of the company. Initially, she is not impressed.
There is quite a deal of plot: at the company, especially with Jules wondering whether she should employ a CEO because she is flat out with the work and it is having a toll on her health. We discover that she is married and has a little daughter of school age. She doesn’t give Ben much to do. The audience can enjoy the range of characters working around the office and Ben’s finding that the company’s massage expert, played by Renée Rosso, is a most congenial friend.
We know that there is going to be a rapport between Jules and Ben but we don’t quite know how. As the screenplay gradually breaks down something of the barriers, there is a lot of interesting, mostly genial, sometimes humorous interchanges between the two. And Ben is welcome in the house, bonding well with the little daughter (though with her dictating car routes, he realises that she is something of a clone!), and befriending the father who is the home carer.
There is a family plot development that we didn’t quite see coming – but that is nature of this kind of plot development. It means that Jules has to open herself up more personally to Ben and he serves as a kindly guide and wisdom figure.
There are also some episodes which are added to the plot, often enjoyably, especially with a special mission led by Ben with his co-workers trying to break into Jules’s mother’s house to delete an email that Jules has sent her by mistake, an entertaining split-timing episode.
The film does have a great deal to say about the place of women in society, in business, with opportunities, as well as opportunities for the older generation, men and women.
As has been suggested, the screenplay, by Nancy Myers, is nicely optimistic, even in troubles and challenges – and only one expletive to be heard and a written suggestion of one and hardly a situation where an expletive would be required.
Nice entertainment. If only…
Roadshow Released October 1st
Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.