Yesterday, at the London Film Festival’s press conference for Suffragette, Meryl Streep pointed out that the majority of film reviewers (for example on Rotten Tomatoes) are male. As men and women sometimes have differing tastes, she says, we need more balance within these reviewing bodies in order to fairly review films. Immediately, I thought: Meryl, thank you! Sophie the critic is back.
Today, I am reviewing Nancy Meyers’ latest film The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro. After The Holiday, which I’ve watched with my girlfriends and alone way too many times, Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, I was pleased to enter Meyers’ colourful and romantic world again and to explore a new relationship with her. This time, it is the friendship between the thirty something CEO of the trendy fashion internet company About the Fit and her 70-year old intern.
De Niro plays Ben, a widower who decides to seize life by interviewing for About the Fit, which seems to be populated only by 20 to 30 year-olds (except for the office masseuse – yes, they have an office masseuse!) and which has decided to hire senior interns.
He soon starts to assist Jules (played by Hathaway), the company’s CEO, who is dealing with a very tight schedule at work and a home life which she may not have enough time to enjoy. As her successful company is attracting the attention of new potential CEOs, Jules is overworked. After first being suspicious about Ben’s observant and helpful qualities, as she likes to stay very private, she later opens up to him and finds surprising balance and comfort in their growing friendship.
This movie is carried by its lovely locations and actors. There is a nice balance between Jules’ work and home life scenes, which includes her stay-at-home husband Matt (Anders Holm) and sweetie pie daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner), who is already using Google Maps. About the Fit’s Brooklyn offices are a converted warehouse through which Jules rides her bike and where communication between departments and colourful casual wear rule.
De Niro is very tender in this film. While he has to attend his friends’ funerals on a regular basis, he never stops caring for the people around him and takes life as it comes. Something very moving, which I would compare to Pixar’s Up opening scene, is found in his eyes when he mentions his deceased wife or when we understand what working in the company’s particular location means to him. Finally, the tears he sheds in San Francisco while watching a Gene Kelly film open up infinite possibilities about his past.
Hathaway is delightful in this film: she perfectly balances her character between the busyness of her work and the importance she places in it, and her feelings about her husband and daughter. She never overplays guilt or control, and we therefore relate to her. I was surprised at the looks she received from stay-at-home moms at her daughter’s school. Does that really still happen?
A few months ago, I watched Hathaway’s performance in Lone Scherfig’s film One Day. This is when I realised how great an actress she is. She truly puts her heart and soul into her characters, and would never let them down. This commitment is so clear in all her performances, and I can’t help but use her as inspiration.
The Intern doesn’t let age differences linger as a subject for too long. Ben’s colleagues and fellow interns, as well as Jules and the masseuse Fiona (Rene Russo) all develop relationships and go through trials which reflect friendship and respect because of the human beings they are. Ben’s age doesn’t become an intimidation factor or a barrier.
The film’s ending was not one which you would necessarily defend, but that made it all the more human, as personal family issues are always unique and hard to judge from the outside.
In this film, Meyers writes an ode to friendship and reminds us that care, observation and listening can go a long way.