THE INTERN

★★

A FRUSTRATING TALE LURKS BELOW THE SURFACE

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Jess Fenton
27th September 2015

I love writer/director Nancy Meyers. Despite being 34 years my senior and only appearing to make films about ageing, I connect to the universal theme of immortality she seems to tackle so well and so poignantly in her work. With the exception of 2006's 'The Holiday', Meyers has always looked at age, or more importantly people’s perception of age. When are you "too old" to have a child, fall in love, fall in love again, keep having sex? In her latest film (six years after her last, 'It's Complicated') she asks "When are you too old to be useful?" - or does she? On the surface, ‘The Intern’ appears to be about an old man re-entering the workforce to give his life purpose and a reason to get up in the morning besides tai chi and avoiding the advances of an eager women in his neighbourhood. But somewhere in the mix this question gets lost and replaced by "Can working mothers have it all?" Only, even Nancy herself doesn't seem to know - and she is one!?

'THE INTERN' TRAILER 2

Struggling with retirement, boredom and purpose, 70-year-old widower Ben (Robert De Niro) applies for a seniors internship program at an expanding e-commerce company run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway). The hardworking mother/wife/boss is a non-stop machine and Ben is assigned to her to make her life just a little bit easier. In the midst of high stakes pressure to find a CEO, Jules the go-getter struggles with the idea of someone else being her boss and letting the reins go of the company she built, while at the same time acknowledging that a CEO would give her more time with her daughter and save her marriage. What's a girl to do?

So, according to the world of Nancy Meyers, to be the boss you have to sacrifice your time, sleep, food, respect from other parents, children and marriage. To be a mother and wife you have to sacrifice your dream. The choice hardly seems fair.

The story is never organic. Everything we learn about each character, no matter how small, is always told to us and never shown. We are told Jules is difficult, harsh and ungrateful. Yet she's across all aspects of the business from fielding customer service calls to showing warehouse workers the correct way to package a product. She's also a loving mother and wife and constantly struggles with the guilt at the sacrifices her family - including herself - make in order to be successful. If Jules was a man would she still be considered "difficult". Jules' husband is a stay-at-home dad who is supportive of his wife's career, yet because she's not at home often enough finds someone else to fill that void. Are all stay-at-home dads like this? One can't help but see the parallels between Nancy Meyers and Jules, and yet she's choosing to ask these questions (with no answers #spoileralert) through a septuagenarian man. Why? I'm still asking myself.

Everything we learn about each character, no matter how small, is always told to us and never shown.

There are laughs and a few tender moments between Ben and Jules as their mentor/mentee relationship flips back and forth, but ultimately you're bugged out of your mind as to what the hell this movie is about!? It’s predictable, signposted, and while the coy father/daughter/romance-that’s-not-a-romance relationship is cute, it’s not enough. No questions are answered and no problems are ever solved. After 2 hours, everyone is exactly where they started. I wanted so much to fall desperately in love with yet another Meyers classic, but ironically I was left pondering whether at 65 and taking longer drinks between projects if perhaps it's time Nancy herself considered the ‘R’ word.

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