Every once in a while, a movie comes that feels like a breath of fresh air, which makes everyone fall in love with it. This 2015 film is the kind that you would love just as much 20 years down the line. It has got an ageless freshness to it and that’s what makes it such an easy film to watch. And I mean that as the highest of compliments.
In case you are not aware, “the intern” here is the 70 year old Ben Whittaker, played by Robert DeNiro, who joins the clothing company founded and run by Jules Ostin, played by Anne Hathaway. The two characters are very different from one another but still very similar. They are the opposite genders, completely different ages, Ben is social and people-friendly and Jules is kind of an introvert and at times comes across as snobbish. However, at the core, they both have a respect for work and like keeping themselves busy and productive.
We are introduced to Ben as an affable widower who wins over everyone he meets through his optimism and hedonistic personality. The perfect description for him, as quoted in the movie, is that he is “a big ball of mush”. Jules, on the other hand, is the founder and CEO of the very successful internet company “About the Fit”, a wife, a mother and someone who is a little hard to understand or like initially.
For the purpose of the movie, Jules represents modernity and Ben represents convention. But the beauty of the film is that they never contradict each other, but rather compliment. Ben’s old-school personality gives Jules stability and dependency and Jules’ modern outlook and positive enforcement regarding the future possibilities makes Ben feel relevant and active. They both are exactly what their lives are missing and exactly what they need. And thus their camaraderie begins and honestly, that happiness is so contagious even as an audience.
But for me, this movie is about Jules.
The one plot point that most people have an issue with, is Jules’ story arc with her husband who retired from his job to become a full-time househusband to take care of their daughter. That, is not the problem. In fact, that’s actually really cool. The problem is that he is having an affair as he feels Jules never has enough time for them and he starts looking for the affection elsewhere. The problem that people have, is Jules trying to understand why Matt (her husband) would do something like this as she contemplates forgiving him and moving forward from this rather than letting the affair consume their relationship. People think it makes her anti-feminist to a certain degree and it takes away from her overall character. However, I would say I disagree here. See, Jules, is a creator. She has created this whole company. She likes to build things. She likes to face the challenges and brave the consequences. And she applies this to her personal life. She is brave enough to see the reality, process it and chooses to come out of it and move past it. That takes strength. It takes courage. It is rather admirable, if you ask me. Of course she has her intern/best friend to help her throughout the thing. Someone she can count on in moments like these.
Both of my favourite moments in the movie are regarding the same plot point – of her husband cheating on her. One of the two moments comes towards the end of the film, when Jules is taking her bath. She is debating whether or not to hire a CEO to run her company as she feels it would make things better for her at her home. She does not want to lose either of the things – her company or her family. So in this scene, while she is doing her thinking, the camera pans out to show the contents in the bathroom – two tooth brushes, two bath robes, two towels and two rubber ducks. That’s when I knew I loved this movie. Without saying anything at all, the scene makes us appreciate the effort it takes to make a relationship work. That if you look closely, the smallest things of the mundane life can show us that we have someone to share them with. As an audience, just through this shot, we appreciate the journey of the couple, without having seen much of it in the movie. We somewhat understand why Jules is willing to make the sacrifices she is making in the interest of the family.
The second scene that is my favourite in the movie, is the scene at the very end. Have a look.
I feel this scene again speaks volumes about Jules as a character and as a person without using so many words. When Jules says “We’re gonna make it. I’m gonna make sure we make it” I feel proud of her character as I hear the confidence and the resilience in her voice when she says these words. She has the confidence to take on anything that may happen in the future and she has the faith to come out of it together, stronger. Whether it is her professional life, or her personal one.
What The Intern represents to me, is the need to be open to experiences, as they may turn out to introduce us to someone we needed all along. The movie drives home the idea that sometimes, we truly can overcome any obstacles simply if we’re determined and resilient enough. It shows me that we can not only be brave to face any obstacles, but also have the will to influence the outcomes. All we need, is some faith. In ourselves.