For this episode I am talking to the Dutch-Ethiopian Gabriella Kebede, a 21 year old International Business student, born in the Netherlands but grew up in Ethiopia until she returned to study in The Hague 2 years ago.  She was already a guinea pig for the IB course Thinking in Action 2 – where we use film clips to enhance students’ critical thinking skills. Now she is a guinea pig for this Clips Blog as the first student I am talking to. Luckily Gabriella tells me that it always amazes her how much you can talk about a 2-minute scene. Well, hear what she has to say about the clip she chose from The Intern (2015): about Robert De Niro, generation clash and business women with families.

Watch exactly the first 2 minutes of this fragment.

Wypkje:  I was wondering why you chose this clip from the Intern? It’s two scenes actually, one going into the next one. What attracted you?

Gabriella: Well, I first saw the film in 2016 and I loved it. I already knew that Robert De Niro is a really good actor and I wanted to get to know exactly what he’s doing, because I’ve never really watched a movie of him in that detail. So I really wanted to see how Robert De Niro did that by watching it again, also because of how I love how he acts. Next to that , in the second part of the clip, in the house, it shows a family togetherness and that attracted me the most.

Wypkje:  You see Jules (Anne Hathaway) as a successful businesswoman and as a mother with a young family. In this fragment you can see her in both roles:  she’s traveling home from work, she just had a business meeting. Ben (Robert de Niro), her intern, is driving her home and then you see her family life as well.  What do you think about her as a businesswoman?

Gabriella: First of all, you can see that she’s very young and ambitious. And usually those kind of people are portrayed to be very much neglecting their own family and very much work oriented.  

The fact that Ben’s is an intern at her company makes the dynamic very different. He has way more life experience yet he’s under her supervision. You can see this dynamic in this scene where Jules is standing next to his car and thanking him. Ben responds: ‘Well, you’re very welcome.’ And then he looks at her deciding to give her advice. And she says: “ I don’t bite’ in a way to show that they are on the same level. That’s what I thought illustrated that dynamic well.

Wypkje: Do you feel there’s a big clash between these two generations? The ‘archaic’ and the millennial.

Gabriella: Could be a clash in a way that he feels more uptight because there’s still a power dynamic going on, but they actually click.  He even gives her advice saying: ‘I don’t want to be annoying, but you know you should get some sleep.’  Not in a father figure sort of way, but caring. Also the fact that she’s giving praise to him. They are complementing each other.

He gives her respect and you can see that she gives him respect as well, and not only because of the age difference but mainly the interaction. Ben represents more the knowledge, based on life experience and how to deal with people and different figures. He knows exactly how to handle her. He seems more in control than she does while she’s trying to figure it all out. And also because her personality is not shaped as his personality yet. She brings in more of the fast -paced, more modern approach of dealing with things that he doesn’t necessarily know about.

Wypkje: So you see Jules first in this ‘work’ relationship with her intern. But then she moves from the car into the house where she meets her family: becomes mother and wife.  

Gabriella: You can also hear that transition in the background music. In her conversation with Ben you hear the kind of music similar to family-oriented commercials or movies, that show a sense of togetherness which immediately stops when she comes in the house.

Jules kicks her heels off- and you can see that she’s very relaxed in her home. She carries her daughter even knowing that she’s old enough to walk, but probably because she missed her so much. When they approached the kitchen table you can tell that the husband is wants her attention while the daughter is wanting her attention as well. It’s kind of like a struggle there.

Wypkje: You see all these nonverbal clues. I feel the husband is trying to give her space to relax, but at the same time he really wants to know what has happened to her and the company. But she’s too tired.

Gabriella: And while he’s asking her all that he pours a glass of wine and then immediately the daughter is also asking her attention, and then you can tell that her attention is more shifted towards her daughter because it’s not work related. In my opinion, she doesn’t really want to talk about work, and she wants to leave it for outside her house, but he’s saying:  ‘Oh, I was expecting your call.’ Which shows  he’s very much interested yet she’s kind of shrugging it off.

 Wypkje: I think it’s interesting to see, that tension and still they’re very friendly with each other. Very nice, but not entirely honest at that moment as well.

Gabriella: Also because of the sarcastic smiles that you can see. It’s awkward when they talk to each other, even though it’s a very calm environment, maybe also because the daughter is there. But it’s not very calm. There’s some kind of  dishonesty.

Wypkje: And he gives her white wine.  I know when you get home from work, you want to relax. But with a young family wine it is actually the worst thing to have at that moment. It makes you so tired. I could relate to that part. I don’t think I have those kind of struggle she has at her work but coming from work you want to relax and give attention to everyone which is impossible at the same time.

Gabriella: It is also an nontraditional way of portraying this scene. Because usually it’s the man that comes and the woman is there asking about how his day went, but it is powerful of this example for the woman to be the one coming home and being tired and all that. Of course not powerful to be tired, but more like she has that role, which is nice to see.

She’s a nice role model to have. You can have it all at a young age and even have a bunch of employees under you. But the important things like personal relationships and also managing yourself can be learned from people that have more life experience than you. I think I have to understand that, and I think everyone has to deal with that. You can’t just neglect one part of your life that you value, which is your family and your personal relationships. Of course, you might think: ‘They can come later and let me do my job first’ but you should also prioritize it. It’s hard with time schedules, but you need to manage your time effectively to show that you value that as well. Because eventually if you shift more of your time to your work then everything is going to decay from there, meaning your valuable relationships. That’s what Jules’s struggling with, but it’s not like she doesn’t find it important. Finding that balance is really hard, but just finding a way is really important.

Maybe establishing some rules. For example, that her husband doesn’t talk about work related things at home. No strict rules, but more of: this is what we do inside and this is what we do outside to really not have work at home. Maybe that could work. I don’t know. It’s a suggestion.

Researcher for Change Management, investigating film, education & critical thinking. Implementing it as lecturer for International Business, all at THUAS.

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