Clea DuVall’s directorial debut, “The Intervention,” about four couples who end up getting some couples therapy during an intervention is refreshing. It treads familiar waters and doesn’t offer anything new in story, but the characters are well-drawn, the narrative full of humor and depth, and the themes handled with a maturity that is absent in other films of this nature.
Jessie (DuVall) heads for Savannah, Georgia, where her family has a summer house she hasn’t visited in years. But Jessie isn’t exactly there for a vacation. Along for the ride are Jessie’s girlfriend Sarah (Natasha Lyonne), Annie (Melanie Lynskey) and her fiance Matt (Jason Ritter), Jack (Ben Schwartz) and his uninvited and younger new girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat). Strong-willed Annie (Melanie Lynskey) is determined, and she’s convinced everyone else of her plan as well, to stage an intervention for their friends Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza). Annie and co. know that the couple is unhappy and instead of trying to get them to talk about, they want them to instead get a divorce.
Once Ruby and Peter find out why they’re really there, Peter becomes angry and turns on everyone, pointing out their faults–Annie keeps postponing her marriage to Matt and has a drinking problem, apparently bisexual Lola tries to make a move on Jessie, and Sarah is confused about why she and Jessie haven’t moved in together after three years. The film opens up each character’s story and instead of just causing drama, seeks to confront it.
DuVall, who also wrote the script, treats each character with importance. It’s very much an ensemble collaboration and while there are some pretty heavy matters, the film never shies away from humor and sarcasm. Using the house as a setting for all the activity keeps the characters engaged with one another and the story tight and contained. Here you won’t find any absurd melodrama and the swift pace keeps the audience on its toes.
Each character balances out the group, with Lynskey taking on more of the responsibility in the comedic department and Smulders rounding out the group with the intensity and emotionally compromising situation of her character. DuVall avoids too much backstory and focuses on the problems presented to the audience, which creates more intimacy and thankfully avoids unnecessary exposition.
“The Intervention” is a classy film about four couples who, while each have their own problems, interact in a refreshing way. While there isn’t anything particularly original about the core plot, the dramatic and comedic beats, as well as the character depth, make for a well-executed and mature film that manages to be enjoyable and thoughtful.