The Intern deceitful in its sweet delivery

Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker in The Intern.
Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker in The Intern.

THE Intern is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

On the surface, this sugar-coated, diabetes-inducing buddy film appears to celebrate working mothers and women in business and in power, but looks can be deceiving.

Online fashion site founder Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway) is introduced as a capable, smart and independent (if a bit quirky) career woman, but when 70-year-old intern Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) turns up and is posted as her assistant, the story takes a turn.

While Jules frets about losing her responsibilities to a potential new CEO (the company is growing far beyond anyone’s expectations), the much older and wiser Ben is a shoulder to lean on and eventually becomes her rock and best friend.

Sounds cute enough, and it is, and the two stars are a delightful fit together.

However, the more this story progresses, the more the apparently strong and capable Jules becomes more reliant both professionally and personally on Ben.

The way she deals with her supportive stay at home husband’s indiscretions is decidedly non-feminist.

The Intern slowly betrays everything positive it has set up about women in the workforce.

Even small things, played for comedic effect, seem to betray what this film establishes; Ben masters the busy New York streets, chauffeuring Jules around flawlessly, but his elderly female intern counterpart cannot even pull out of a car bay without almost causing a collision with oncoming traffic.

This is also the kind of film where an old, grey and wrinkled man scores the company of two gorgeous younger women, with Rene Russo (61) playing his potential love interest.

The Intern is sweet, cute, easy to digest and even has a few nice moments and genuine laughs, but look a little closer and it becomes more harmful than it intends.

THE ESSENTIALS

The Intern (M)

Directed by: Nancy Meyers

Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo

Two stars

Review by: Julian Wright

In cinemas now.