By Thomas Simpson
Ben (Robert De Niro) is a retired widower. He can’t seem to settle in this new chapter of his life and is seeking a challenge. When he hears about a senior internship program at an online fashion company, he decides to give it a shot. Successful in his application he is assigned to the company’s founder Jules (Anne Hathaway). Despite being initially skeptical of the older man, Jules warms to Ben and soon discovers that he will be a positive influence in both her business and personal life.
The Intern is light, breezy, schmaltzy and cheesy, yet a lot of fun. As Hollywood releases blockbuster spectacles dealing with isolation and death, Nancy Meyers’ film may have swooped under your radar but it’s worthy of your attention.
The chemistry between the two leads is spot on as De Niro and Hathaway complement each other perfectly. The Oscar winning actors refuse to dial it in, instead they flesh out characters that are engaging and likable.
Ben is an old fashioned and distinguished gentlemen with a sweet demeanor. Not only does he play a fatherly role in Jules life, he becomes the agony uncle of his whole team as he selflessly tackles one personal issue after another. De Niro plays him with a nuanced subtlety, his facial expressions able to tell a whole scene, most notably in confrontations with Jules’ husband.
Meyers doubles up in script duties, and although the film has a strong feminine message, she doesn’t ram it down people’s throats. Jules is a successful self-made businesswoman, but story comes first here. Her character arc is important to the plot, any other themes are layered underneath with the story taking priority.
Hathaway’s good-natured performance helps us get on side with Jules. We’re rooting for her throughout as she fights the constant battle between her work and family life. She is idiosyncratic in nature but there is no malice in her.
The film strays into familiar territory at times but Meyers does well to avoid the mundane clichés associated with such a light-hearted comedy. In many ways The Intern has some traits that are mostly found in rom-coms but what’s refreshing here is there’s no romantic connection between Ben and Jules, not that there has to be.
The Intern won’t be the best film you see this year but if you’re after an entertaining and upbeat comedy with two highly talented leads then this is for you.