Meaning in Retirement: “The Intern”

In Nancy Meyers‘s The Intern we see that “Experience never gets old,” as goes the tagline, and that there can still be work-related meaning in retirement.

Robert De Niro plays Ben, a senior widower who seeks an internship at a fashion website company managed by Jules (Anne Hathaway). Although bringing on a 70-year-old intern is not an idea she’s personally endorsed, it all works out in the end.

As reviews have pointed out, the trailer basically tells you the whole story:

It’s an enjoyable piece of fluff perfectly suitable for a winter rental. A few review excerpts:

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: “The artistry of ‘The Intern’ is that Meyers figures out how to make the inevitable interesting, or at least interesting enough. We are made to feel, almost by instinct, without really being told, that Ben has things to teach Jules, and we’re also made to care that Jules learns them.”

James Rocchi, The Wrap: “Considering the movie’s fortune-cookie-style ‘insights’ that old and young have much to learn from each other, it’s only appropriate that De Niro and Hathaway’s charms, and those alone, comprise the saving graces of ‘The Intern’.”

Tom Long, Detroit News: “…[Meyers] squarely faces the potential abyss of retirement that’s currently confronting tens of millions of Americans, the possible sense of empty uselessness, the loss of purpose and function.”

It’s this last point that most interested me—the film’s setup that Ben realizes he’s missing something in life and then pulls himself out of “the potential abyss” by interning. However, as these types of opportunities for finding meaning in retirement aren’t something I’ve heard about before, I had to wonder how realistic this was.

Johnny Brayson, Bustle: “…As long as an internship doesn’t offer any kind of age restriction or college requirement, you can apply regardless of how old you are. A lot of companies still prefer to go with more traditional, 21-year-old interns, but more and more are accepting older people as a viable alternative. Especially if they happen to be Robert De Niro.”

There’s always still volunteerism as a potentially fulfilling option, which brings such benefits as improving one’s mental health, reducing social isolation, in addition to various other things specific to your own needs.

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