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the intern

Review: The Intern

Ros Hull

70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin. IMDb 

We all do it.

We grow old. That does not mean the lessons we have learnt, knowledge we have gained or talents we have used are lessened – in many cases, the abrasion of time reveals gems in our characters we didn’t even know were there.

In my everyday life (as opposed to my secret identity as a film reviewer) I am lucky enough to have several senior volunteers working with me. I treasure both their life experience and their accumulated knowledge. Their energy, positive attitude and enthusiasm is an example to many in our building.

Our society is often guilty of selling young people short – I never will, and am happy to take up their banner in any conversation. Sadly, older people have the same problem as the young.

However, there is a small but steadily growing movement to keep older people in vital roles and recognise just how much they still have to give to their community. Robert De Niro will now be the poster child for that movement!

And if the he is, then Anne Hathaway is the harried face of many successful business women who are (deep in their core) afraid to be seen as needing help with any aspect of their lives. They are both right on the money in their roles – especially considering neither was the first choice – they have a rapport that lifts the story above the ordinary. The entire supporting cast shines too.

I did not expect much going into this film so I was very pleasantly surprised – the grin has still not left my face. I chuckled right through it – except in a few sequences when my heart broke a little, just as it should in the best comedies. Still I wouldn’t class it as just comedy. It is more of a rom-com, without the rom.

Not so much of a duck-out-of-water story as a duck-back-into-water-but-a-different-ocean story.

The writing is excellent – of course. The only thing more successful than Nancy Meyers directing career is her writing career. Check out her IMDb page. Where it would have been so, so easy to slip into cliché and lowbrow wit Meyers, wearing both hats as always, has gone for the unexpected, but perhaps also for the ‘hoped for’ beat in the story.

Let me explain. We women are notorious for being both our own worst enemies and genius level passive-aggressives, right? So when Ben comments to a couple of mums (who had a thinly veiled dig at Jules about having the time to make guacamole for a class party at school) how great it is that ‘one of their own’ is carrying the flag for them – as a mum, a super successful business woman and their friend, it is at once funny and cuts to the heart of the problem. Meyers must actually know What Women Want.

Before anyone loses their whatever over the light-hearted nature of a story actually filled with issues relevant to lots of us … can we please just give ourselves a break and enjoy it? This is wish fulfillment cinema that is very well done. I don’t think I’ve had such a fun, uncomplicated time at the movies in quite a while.

It touches on a lot of niggling issues about men/boys, definition of work roles, leadership and managerial skills, work/life balancing acts and women’s issues. It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours – yet it never hammers any of this home. Just has fun with it all.

Have fun with this film.

Ros Hull

Ros saw Star Wars and immediately wanted to fly the Millenium Falcon. Unable to do that she became a Jill-of-all-trades as her army husband whirled her around the world – and back to Canberra 10 years ago. She has worked in public programs and museum education ever since. She gained an MA in writing whilst getting two daughters through high school - both are now at university and undeniably fabulous (according to her). She can worry as an Olympic sport so she sees lots of movies instead. More about the Author

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