Review – ‘Intern’ directed by Elena Viklova

Written and directed by Elena Viklova, the 2023 short ‘Intern’ stars Isaac Jay, Richard Riehle, Arianna Papalexopoulos, Greg Smith and others. The film chronicles an intern’s last day at a corporate firm as he comes across unexpected challenges.

Written and directed by Elena Viklova, the 2023 short ‘Intern’ stars Isaac Jay, Richard Riehle, Arianna Papalexopoulos, Greg Smith and others. The film chronicles an intern’s last day at a corporate firm as he comes across unexpected challenges.

Isaac Jay stars as an intern at a big unnamed firm, hoping to make it to an interview on his final day with upper management in order to secure a job. However, the intern is in for the fight of his life as the process will be anything but simple. As increasingly bizarre obstacles come his way, the intern begins to question everyone and everything.

Part of the reason the ‘Intern’ works really well is that it taps into the current social movement of the working class turning against the capitalists. The mask is off; corporations are evil and workers are increasingly apprised of this fact that companies only exist to make money at the expense of everything else. Morality, kindness and respect have been thrown out the window and the worker only exists to contribute to the buckets of profit that the capitalist is expected to make. It is within this malevolent world that our innocent little protagonist gets his first taste of life beyond the curtain and like most, he too will succumb to the allure of corporate life, signing everything he holds dear away with the stroke of a pen.

The acting is fantastic across the board. The star of the show is Isaac Jay as the confused, erratic intern Seth. Seth wants nothing more than to be given an opportunity to serve but is faced with challenge after challenge as a seemingly indifferent company culture takes its toll on his mental health. On the other end of the spectrum is the CEO, played to perfection by Richard Riehle. Between the CEO and Seth lay a minefield of employees, all of whom are casted to perfection. Every single cast member plays his or her part masterfully here as Viklova’s part satire-part dramedy comes to life in thunderous applause.

The perfect acting is only made better by a razor sharp script that punches up the subtext about corporate culture in the US. Employing a mix of subtle comedy, drama and everything in between, it is the screenplay that really drives home the point the director is trying to make. With just the perfect amount of exposition, Viklova is able to convey a range of points to the audience without coming across as heavy handed. It is in the script’s ability to perfectly balance things that do not normally work in tandem is where true brilliance is found. 

There is something interesting about the cinematography as well. The office is dark, probably alluding to the depressing nature of corporate jobs that employees find themselves in. In contrast, the upper floor where the CEO resides, alludes to heaven in its all white and perfectly minimal setting. Every employee strives to make the journey from darkness to light and in the process, realises the truth about the company as a whole. There is no merit, no logic to this transition, the only thing that truly matters is how loyal you are to the company and how far you are willing to go for it. Like all others, Seth too succumbs to the choice offered and the story resets when he finds another intern, like him, waiting to make the journey above.

Since Viklova wrote the script, she is the perfect person to direct this story. She knows the nuances of the story inside out and thus, the film turns out much better as compared to if someone else had directed it. The pacing is perfect, ensuring that the audience never gets bored in the slightest. Equally impressive is Viklova’s ability to find a twisted sense of humour in even the most adverse conditions, one that plays well to the film’s subversive themes.

Intern is therefore an interesting beast. Both a satire of corporate culture and a deep dive into the insanity of modern work, the film makes you think about a lot of things. Are we merely modern slaves with ties and offices? Have we bargained our morality for a better lifestyle? Will capitalists ever stop exploiting the working class? Whatever the answers to these questions might be, there is one thing we can all agree on. Intern is a fantastic short film which fires on all cylinders. The film is a testament to the creative prowess of Elena Viklova and we hope to see Viklova tackle many more films in the near future.

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