‘The Intern,’ and graying successfully

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2015/09/25/the-intern-and-graying-successfully/

“The Intern,” starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, is the latest vehicle 65-year-old Nancy Meyers uses to cover the not-so-familiar territory of graying successfully. Written, directed and produced by Meyers, the colorful film feels and sounds like two of her many films: 2003’s “Something’s Gotta Give” with Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and 2009’s “It’s Complicated” with Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin. Meyers continues to drive home the notion aging can be evergreen.

This comedy, like the others, cruises through a well crafted story using baby boomers as lead characters. The actors in each of these films are relatable and relevant not despite their age; rather, because of it.

In “The Intern,” charismatic De Niro plays Ben, a retired gentleman recently widowed, looking to redirect his life. After trying the predictable time fillers, he returns to the idea of working. Anne Hathaway’s character, Jules, is a refined young entrepreneur cycling though the personal and professional challenges of an online fashion startup. Her ready-to-wear business, All About The Fit, isn’t necessarily a perfect fit for a 70-year-old intern, but by the end of the movie, the two are tailor-made to work and learn together.

A feel good ending is fairly typical of Meyers’ films. Where she distinguishes herself is her willingness to look at the importance of the expanding role of seniors in our culture. Our population is aging, and our life expectancies increasing. According to the U.S Census Bureau, an American’s life expectancy in 1900 was 47 years. These days the average exceeds 77 healthy years. To portray people over 65 as aimless, or trivialize their lives by relegating seniors to a series of old fart jokes is to miss an important evolution in our country’s cultural richness.

To its credit, “The Intern” doesn’t use Ben as the answer to all problems. In the end he is an allegorical bridge that spans from old brown stone Brooklyn to Golden Gate San Francisco and back home again. De Niro’s character ties the present to the past – generationally, technologically, and emotionally.

Hathaway’s dreamy, perfectly pressed black and white ensembles are additional nuanced clues to Meyer’s ultimate message; real life isn’t always black and white —sometimes it’s gray that saves the day.

“The Intern” opens Friday.

Diane Kilgore is a Boston-area blogger.

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