Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Intervention: Movie Review

Comedy and drama in an ensemble about marriage and life.

The Intervention is the first feature film written and directed by actress Clea DuVall and she hits that sweet spot between comedy and drama. It’s an ensemble piece about four couples coming together for a weekend getaway at an old family estate in Savannah, Georgia. Although as the title suggests, it’s not a simple gathering, it’s an intervention. 2016

Directed by: Clea DuVall

Screenplay by: Clea Duvall

Starring: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Vincent Piazza, Ben Schwartz, Jason Ritter

Annie (Melanie Lynskey) has decided that her married friends Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza) aren’t happy and should get divorced. It’s true; they’re not happy. They fight a lot and don’t even bother trying to be polite or even cover it up. The introduction of Ruby and Peter add an interesting element to the film – on one hand the fact that Annie is right and Ruby and Peter probably should get divorced is funny, but on the other hand these are sad and angry characters frustrated with their current place in life and it doesn’t feel like we should be rooting for the demise of a marriage.

It’s that mix between drama and comedy which this film handles so well. It’ll go from laughs to heart-breaking lows to more laughs, and it works beautifully.

This intervention is entirely Annie’s idea. She’s a type A personality, always micro-managing and always wanting to be in control of everyone and everything. But of course she’s going to pass it off as a group decision. She has enlisted the help of her fiancĂ©e Matt (Jason Ritter), Ruby’s sister Jessie (Clea DuVall) and her long-time girlfriend Sarah (Natasha Lyonne), and old family friend Jack (Ben Schwartz) who has brought along his much younger girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat) – but Annie calls her “Baby Stranger”.

The cast is aces. Lynskey’s Annie is arguably the lead and the funniest. She does an extremely good job of making her more abrasive personality hilarious and here’s one line that shows that perfectly: “Listen, do me a favor. Google “how to tell if someone’s having a psychotic break.”” The entire cast plays their part well, but I especially want to highlight Vincent Piazza as the probably-soon-to-be-divorced Peter. Piazza is responsible for making the shifts in tone feel very natural and accurate. He takes the film from a hilarious comedy to a heart-breaking drama about divorce because of the emotional weight that he gives Peter. Peter’s arguably the biggest jackass of the bunch, but most of the time, he’s right, and he makes us care about him and everybody else. And contrary to most of his career (and how his character is originally painted), Ben Schwartz plays Jack as the most grounded and sane character. Whenever there’s a ridiculous group disagreement, he has a subtle maturity to him that can bring everybody back down to the heart of the matter. But that’s if the others will even listen to him.

And now to the best part of The Intervention, this isn’t simple an intervention on Ruby and Peter’s marriage. This is an intervention for everybody. Every single one of these characters has their own struggles in life, which most of whom won’t admit to, and every scene has a bubbling undercurrent of energy of who is going to fall apart next and who will be able to save themselves in time. It’s because these characters are so real that the film is able to find that sweet spot between comedy and drama. For those that like independent ensemble dramedies, this one can’t be missed.

Similar Titles:

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Joshy (2016) - Engaging characters shine through in a dark comedy balancing humour and tragedy.

Digging for Fire (2015) - Lack of murder mystery still reveals a funny and insightful film.