‘The Intern’ highlights social issues in workplace through touching story

by: PAMELA GANDY/Entertainment Editor 

Sweet. Sincere. Stirring.

Director Nancy Meyers highlights an atypical friendship between two very different people while also presenting work-related social issues and inequalities in the new film, “The Intern.”

Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) is a 70-year-old widower who has become bored with retirement. Whitaker was once a busy and successful businessman, and he is eager to prove he still has potential and energy. He becomes a senior intern at a thriving online fashion company called About the Fit. He is significantly older than the other interns, which is initially a little awkward. However, his personality and sometimes witty humor allows him to bond with the other employees. He eventually becomes somewhat of a father figure to many of the young interns.

The company is owned and operated by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway), who is a competitive and serious CEO. She puts almost all of her time into her company, and therefore sometimes neglects her relationships with her husband Matt (Anders Holm) and their daughter Paige (JoJo Kushner).

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Ben is assigned to work with Jules, who is initially skeptical of him. Even so, Ben remains very loyal to Jules. He works very hard and goes out of his way to show his respect for her. After noticing that Jules’ chauffer had been drinking, he persuades the driver to go home early and offers to drive Jules himself. Ben and Jules develop a very close working relationship; Ben even meets Jules’ family. Eventually, Ben learns the severity of Jules’ and Matt’s marital problems, and he tries very hard to support Jules in balancing her expanding company with repairing her marriage.

Ben continues to prove himself at the company. Meanwhile, Jules’ ability to manage her workload is questioned by investors, who pressure her into finding a new CEO.

Ben reminds Jules that hiring a new CEO will limit her authority over the company that she created, and he attempts to persuade her to keep her position. Jules is reluctant to give up her office, but she believes that doing so will give her the time to work on her fractured marriage. She begins considering hiring a new CEO. Ben is supportive of her choices, but doesn’t believe she will truly be happy if she no longer has authority and creative control over the company.

“The Intern” is a great movie choice for anyone who enjoys sincerity and comedy. De Niro and Hathaway have a surprisingly sweet and genuine connection, which allows the audience to be more emotionally invested in their characters.

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However, the movie is slightly unbalanced. Throughout the film, many social issues are brought to light, including those surrounding gender equality and the elderly in the workplace. This provided the opportunity for the film to explore some of these issues, but the story only scratched the surface. The issues regarding the roles of career women and the position of older employees were presented, but they were never developed.

That being said, “The Intern” is still an entertaining and enjoyable movie, despite not achieving its full potential. I really enjoyed seeing De Niro outside of his usual element, as a softer character. Hathaway’s character is also very interesting, because she embodies a very real struggle of balancing a fulltime career with raising a child and maintaining a marriage.

I enjoyed the humor and the chemistry between De Niro and Hathaway, but would have liked to see more emphasis placed on the presented social issues. I give “The Intern” 3 out of 5 stars.

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