It’s always interesting to look at the issue of gender in Hollywood, and one of the ways to do that is to examine how films directed by women are received. Nancy Meyers has enjoyed considerable success as a writer and director for decades now, especially recently, yet her films rarely garner much critical respect. You could put this down to the simple mechanics of popular film – most commercially successful American films rarely get much critical praise to match their box office – but that would leave out the inconvenient truth that the vast majority of critics are middle-aged men, which suggests little room for progressive ideas about how films should exist beyond the male gaze.

The Intern is the latest example of this – a film without much respect from the critical establishment but one that seems to resonate very strongly with audiences. This rather implies a disconnect between what works for middle-aged men and what works for people in general. Granted, it’s not a particularly innovative film, but it has plenty to say about gender roles and ageism in the workplace, and it does so with wit and sophistication. Robert De Niro also turns in some of his most subtle and affectionate work in years, while Anne Hathaway plays things more tough and stringent. It’s this kind of playing against type that audiences may well have warmed to, and such subtle subversions may well have flown over many male heads.

An underappreciated successful film from a female writer/director growing in confidence8
A refreshingly progressive commentary on workplace gender roles and ageism8
Robert De Niro not actually phoning it in for once8
An admittedly safe and straightforward approach otherwise5
Always remember - almost all major critics are middle-aged white men7
Bechdel Test Passes
  • Features more than one named female character
  • The named female characters talk to each other
  • They talk about something other than men
Bechdel Test Failures
  • n/a
7Overall Score

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