FILM: THE INTERN
CAST: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Jojo Kushner, Linda Lavin, Jason Orley, Zack Pearlman, Andrew Rannells, Christina Scherer
DIRECTOR: Nancy Meyers
In ‘The Intern’, De Niro stars as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower who 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 (Anne Hathaway).
Director Nancy Meyers’ films (which include such releases as ‘It’s Complicated’, ’Something’s Gotta Give’, ‘Private Benjamin’) have been celebrated for their humorous and poignant exploration of romantic relationships — from courtship, to marriage, to divorce, and to what comes after. Throughout her films, there has always been a thread of friendship between characters, and that relationship takes centre stage in ‘The Intern’.
Meyers offers, “Relationships are what drive my films, but there are other kinds of relationships other than romantic ones. So when I had this idea about an older man becoming an intern at a start-up, I realized it wouldn’t be a love story, in the traditional sense; it would be a story about a bond and friendship…between two people who might otherwise never cross paths.”
‘The Intern’ also looks at another element of our lives that helps to form our core identity: work. Meyers emphasizes this with the film’s opening line, which cites Freud’s conjecture: “Love and work, work and love. That’s all there is.” The director affirms, “I think having a purpose and being valued are needs as basic as being loved and loving.”
But when you’ve retired and the love of your life is gone, where do you go and what do you do?
That is the dilemma facing one of the film’s two central characters, Ben Whittaker.
Robert De Niro plays the man who gets the chance to begin again at a local Brooklyn start-up. The legendary actor says he appreciated the opportunity to collaborate for the first time with Meyers. “This is the kind of movie that Nancy does and does so well. It’s in some ways a classic Hollywood comedy, but not of the past; it’s very contemporary. Here, she hits on something I think a lot of people can relate to: they’re not necessarily sure anything has changed other than they just got older, but they still have plenty to offer and are able to be productive.”
Anne Hathaway stars opposite De Niro as Jules Ostin, the founder of an e-commerce site, About the Fit (ATF). Hathaway says, “Nancy is a wonderful, heartfelt filmmaker and, on a personal level, probably the funniest woman I’ve ever met. Her timing is impeccable, but her films are not just funny; they are warm and deeply human in dealing with the exquisite agony of living on a day-to-day basis.”
Producer Suzanne Farwell, whose collaboration with Meyers dates back to her working as an assistant on Meyers’ 1998 directorial debut, ‘The Parent Trap’, adds, “Nancy’s movies are timeless. There are always serious subjects at stake, but they are examined with a great amount of humour. That’s her trademark: being able to strike that balance, and audiences respond to that. In this film, she addresses zeitgeist topics such as women in business, retirement and remaining relevant, but with a bit of a different take than usual.”
In ‘The Intern’, Meyers creates an interesting and often telling arc between Ben, an early Baby Boomer, and Millennials, the latest generation to enter the workforce. She also has fun with the culture shock the former phone book company executive faces when he enters the nearly paperless world of this start-up: casual every day, not just Fridays; hoodies versus hankies; Facebook, not phonebooks; tweeting instead of talking; emoticons replacing real emoting; and gigabytes over gallantry.
“I think in recent years the world has changed so rapidly. Things are moving faster,” says Farwell. “You’ve got seasoned pros who have a lot to offer – a wealth of knowledge and wisdom from a lifetime of experience. And then you have this completely new work generation whose attitude and approach to their career is entirely different.”
Meyers set her story in the fascinating milieu of the start-up culture. “A start-up seemed like the most interesting and fun environment to let the inevitable culture clash play out,” she says.
“It was a fun playground, with two generations colliding,” Hathaway remarks. “Among the technological and social advances we’ve made, a lot of things that were holding us back are slowly dying away. Unfortunately, something that also seems to be disappearing is a sense of gentility.”
De Niro agrees. “There is definitely something to be said for experience and tradition, and that’s what Nancy’s expressing in the story. It’s a tale of age over youth, if you will.”
That generation gap has also given way to a somewhat intriguing reversal, which is reflected in the film. Meyers explains, “As women went from girls to women, men went from men to boys. While girls were being told they could accomplish anything, I think guys got a little lost in the shuffle and are still trying to figure it all out.”
CAST: Ryan Reynolds, Matthew Goode, Ben Kingsley
DIRECTOR: Ram Bergman
A terminally ill elderly billionaire (Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley) who is dying from cancer buys a chance for eternal life through an experimental underground medical procedure called “shedding,” which transfers his consciousness into the cadaver of a younger man (Ryan Reynolds).However, the promise of immortality turns into a nightmare when he experiences flashbacks that reveal the disturbing origins of his new body and he discovers a secret organization that will kill to keep their cause quiet.