The Intervention

Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films
Directed by Clea DuVall

Aug 23, 2016 Web Exclusive
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Sending four middle class couples off to a reunion in the postcard-pretty Georgia countryside is always going to end in explosive arguments, recriminations, and a little dose of healing. At least in the world of cinema, from Return of the Secaucus 7 to The Big Chill, it’s pretty much the only outcome. To be fair to The Intervention, that’s kind of the whole point, hence the title. The use of the definite article is misleading though, for Clea DuVall’s directorial debut contains more than one intervention.

Initially, this routinely damaged collection of individuals have gathered for a specific intervention, namely to encourage a divorce for the perpetually warring Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza). They’re the last to arrive, mostly because Peter parks up by the side of the road for a lengthy business call. Already waiting for them is borderline alcoholic Annie (Melanie Lynskey) and her pleasant doormat of a fiancé Matt (Jason Ritter), Ruby’s sister Jessie (DuVall) and her partner Sarah (Natasha Lyonne), and Jack (Ben Schwartz) who rocks up with a disconcertingly young new girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat in full Meg Tilly mode).

The plan they concoct is not exactly complicated. During their first evening the group, led by Annie and Jessie, will sit down their friends and break the bad news. That no one thought of chatting to them about the state of their relationship beforehand doesn’t say much for the group’s emotional intelligence. Not everyone agrees with the plan, Jack thinks it unnecessary, but they give it a shot, succeeding on the second attempt a day later after drink and charades get in the way.

There is nothing in DuVall’s debut (she also wrote the screenplay) that particularly fails. It’s a competently-shot, well-acted -- especially from Lynskey -- slice of thirty-something ennui. DuVall even layers in several astute observations from that irritating kid on public transport to the perils of group sport and the ever-explosive properties of a BBQ. Where it falls down is the sheer predictable ordinariness of the whole affair. It’s clear from the start the intervention will cause strife, and that every couple locked in the house will undergo a personal voyage of some sort. The formal intervention is turned onto another of the party, but they all go through moments of realization, be it uncertainty over marriage or boredom in long term relationships.

The Intervention is a genial debut; never jarring, never unpleasant and never offering much beyond cursory interest. Honesty and healing are the game and everything will just about end up OK, much like the film.

Author rating: 5.5/10

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