Starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway
Written and Directed by Nancy Meyers
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” It’s that ambiguous riddle of an interview question that has made most of us shift uncomfortably in a hard backed spare office chair at one time or another. Try asking that of a 70-year-old prospective “senior intern” then put him on a share desk working for the hipsters of the Facebook generation and you have comedy ready made, right? “The Intern” it so much fresher, so much more poignant and so much more down right funny than it’s concept at first suggests.
Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro), a retired widower has been out of a job for 3 years. He’s travelled the world and tried everything retirement has to offer but in his quest to stay active it’s an opening for a senior internship program at online fashion startup company “About the Fit” that provides the realization that he still has more to offer the workforce.
Ben is thrust into the chic open plan offices of “About the Fit” and what is a self-imposed pressure cooker environment for his generation Y colleagues. The initial clash of cultures is overthrown quickly by Ben’s observational awareness and he awakens his co-workers to some of the more “old school” selflessness and panache missing in modern business.
However it is when Ben is assigned as personal intern to “About the Fit” founder Jules Austin (Anne Hathaway) that he starts to make his most profound difference at the company. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, he becomes much more a mentor to her than the recipient of significant learning experiences. That’s not to say he isn’t changed by the experience of working for her, but can he save her from the constant pressure the startup founder is put under?
“The Intern’s” freshness comes from the way it comments on one of the great challenges facing many western nations. Retirees are living longer, are healthier, want to work more but are discriminated against based on their age and the perceptions of business operators 30, 40, even 50 years younger than them. “About the Fit” is like many modern companies, surging full of creative potential and talent but lacking in the objective direction that the mentorship of older people can provide. I hope that, second to the level of entertainment it provides, this film can be the starting point for workplace discussions all across the world about the real value that older employees can provide.
Writer director Nancy Meyers’ screenplay for this film is equally humorous and poignant whilst maintaining cheeky spontaneity. The trick that is performed is the magic of some of the greatest stories, to reflect society to itself through engaging characters with a sense of meaning that flows naturally. I tip my hat off to such writing and there is only one further comment to make about “The Intern”: watch this film and you won’t want to leave these characters, even as the cleaners enter the cinema at the end credits.