The Intervention (2016)

The Intervention

A light comedy of thirty-somethings interfering in their friends’ lives, Clea DuVall’s The Intervention is a lightweight performance piece.

The Lives of Others

by Alexa Dalby

The Intervention

CAUTION: Here be spoilers

It’s hard to imagine this happening outside of America. A group of thirty-something friends reunite for the weekend at a magnificent ante-bellum country house near Savannah to intervene, as they have intrusively planned, in the marriage of another couple – Paul and Ruby (Vincent Piazza and Cobie Smulders) – who they think are unhappy and should divorce. Paul and Ruby have three children, though they are not present at the weekend: Paul is a workaholic and we see the couple bickering all the way in the car journey there, but there are hints later that this is not the whole story of their relationship.

The Intervention is the directorial debut for Clea DuVall, who also plays Jessie, Ruby’s sister, one half of an uneasy lesbian couple with Sarah (Natasha Lyonne). The get-together has been orchestrated by Annie (Melanie Lyskey) – it’s her family’s holiday home – who’s the long-term bride-to-be of Matt (Jason Ritter). It’s her well-intentioned but misguided idea and, as we see her drinking, it seems that before the end of the weekend, she may be needing an intervention of her own. Childhood friend Jack (Ben Schwartz), recently single, and who wants no part of the scheme, brings along a much-younger new girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat), to the displeasure of the others, who turns out to be the free-spirited catalyst in resolving the emotional impasse that arises.

Like a Friends ten or so years on, it’s an ensemble piece where the acting works well, but here the script isn’t strong enough. Predictably, by taking a holier-than-thou attitude to Paul and Ruby – who are outraged when the reason for the weekend is clumsily revealed to them – each couple uncovers their own unacknowledged issues which they have not faced, and which surface as emotions get raw – though quite politely. Despite the set-up, the tone is lightweight seriocomic and everybody gets a resolution for their problems one way or another.

The Intervention is now showing at the Sundance Film Festival London

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