Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Intern and Everest -- two very different movies which spoil the show by their preachiness

Movies are supposed to tell stories, good ones if possible. They are not meant to carry messages of any kind. The message if there is any has to be in the story itself. The problem with The Intern (which I saw on Monday, September 28) in Delhi) and Everest (which I saw on Thursday, October 1 in Gurgaon)is that instead of telling stories they try to drive home a message which is supposed to be the important part of the movie. The best example that I can recall is Andrei Konchalovsky's Runaway Train (1985) which is a splendid action movie with thought-provoking questions about the meaning of life. The Intern and Everest really irritate. Directors Nancy Meyers (The Intern) and Baltasar Kormakur (Everest) make the preaching painfully obvious.
Meyers tries to do three things in The Intern. It is how a 65-year-old man can remain useful and inculcate in the young and the not-so-young the need to wear a suit, tuck the shirt in, carry a handkerchief in case women cry and be open to other women of his age. Then we have a successful entrepreneur who is obsessed with sexist men without realising that she really is fond of the right men like the 65-year-old man in the shop. And she overcomes her hesitation of being a successful woman and her house-husband after going astray -- kissing another woman -- because he was so confused about himself. And all this done in a cloyingly sweet manner. Robert de Niro was never a good actor but he has been really pushed into a wimpy role. Anne Hathaway is the sweet American woman who makes success into a sweet romance. Let us leave out the house-husband. of course, Americans after having lost faith in God and all that, need these feel-good tales to make a transition into this new feminised world.

Kormakur again deals with individuals -- of course this is based on a true story -- who are just restless to do something because they do not have anything meaningful to do in life. That is why, their quest for Everest. Many of them are not physically fit to climb the mountain, excepting the Japanese woman who had climbed six highest peaks and she wants to add the seventh -- the highest, Everest -- to her cap. One of them pants near the summit and says that he has paid $65,000 and the adventure guide better see to it that he reaches the peak. Kormakur wants to turn it into a morality tale by making out that each man is reaching out to something better than himself, man overreaching to be his best self. It might be true, but again like Meyers, Kormakur says it out aloud. That spoils the show.

Of course, it would be wrong to expect Meyers and Kormakur to look a little deeper and state the simple fact there is a lot of emptiness in modern life and that people are trying to do something meaningful to negate this sense of emptiness. As a matter of fact, The Intern (played by Roberto de Niro) is the right candidate if only he had not been made out to be so pious.

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