Stars: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannells, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer, Nat Wolff, Linda Lavin, Celia Weston, Steve Vinovich | Written and Directed by Nancy Myers
70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (De Niro) 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 (Hathaway).
It’s hard to believe that it’s been six years since writer/director Nancy Myers took the reigns of a movie, what she’s been doing in the meantime I don’t know, but after seeing The Intern, I’m glad Myers and her particular brand of filmmaking, and humour, is back. Especially give just how brilliant her latest opus is. Yes, it might sound strange but even this horror-loving, genre-movie fan has a soft spot for a decent Hollywood rom-com…
For me The Intern works because there’s a real old-school charm to not only De Niro’s character but the very film itself. Apart from the obvious modern-day overtones (interns, e-commerce company etc.) this film could have very well been a product of old Hollywood, a vehicle for the likes of Cary Grant for example.
Of course it helps that Hathaway channels her inner Audrey Hepburn once again. Whilst De Niro proves why, even today – and in roles the polar opposite in which he found fame (though there’s a funny nod to Taxi Driver within The Intern) – his wealth of experience counts. In lesser hands the role of Ben Whittaker could have come across as a real creep, especially in the more quieter moments with Hathaway later in the film, but instead De Niro performance gives Ben a unwritten history… you know Ben is a true gent, you know he only has the best intentions for everyone he meets and you know, in the end, his demeanour and attitude will have a positive outcome on those around him. And you know that even without so much as a word, such is the power of De Niro’s acting.
Couple those performances with Myers’ solid script, which gives her characters nuances and flaws not seen in a lot of Hollywood rom-coms (for that’s what this is, a rom-com but with a familial “romance” rather than the traditional one) and you have an incredbily satisfying, heart-warming family film. Thankfully Myers does not cave into convention with her script either. For the longest time the audience will think it knows where The Intern‘s story is headed and a few years ago that might have been the outcome – but today have strong women who can make their own decisions and hold their own in the corporate world and Myers’ film reflects that.
I could have done without the relationship issues between Ostin and her husband (played by Anders Holm) but then that’s a small qualm in a film that’s as hard to resist as De Niro Ben Whittaker.