Sundance London 2016 Review – The Intervention

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Clea DuVall stars, writes and directs The Intervention, a relationship comedy that sees her team-up with a variety of indie favourites including Melanie Lynskey, Natasha Lyonne and Ben Schwartz. DuVall makes the most of the small-scale gathering concept at the heart of the film allowing her to focus on some impressive character work and breezy gags.

Four couples are reunited at their luxury lakeside summerhouse, but events take a worrying turn when it is revealed that the weekend is actually an excuse for three of the couples to launch an intervention for the other.

DuVall devotes a decent amount of time to exploring each of the couple’s relationships: the pair at the centre of this intervention, Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza): argue constantly, miss their anniversary, with Peter paying more interest to his business than his isolated wife. However, DuVall’s neat script amusingly uses this to mirror the damage at the heart of each couple’s relationship, all of which comes to a head over this heated weekend – with those seeking to intervene in Ruby and Peter’s marriage having a variety of problems within their own.

Annie (Lynskey) drinks a little too much and struggles to commit to wedding her partner Matt (Jason Ritter). Sarah (Lyonne) and Jesse (DuVall) have been together for three-years yet will not address the idea of moving in; whilst Jack (Schwartz) is living out on the road with his young uninhibited girlfriend (Alia Shawkat) who he met at SXSW. These tensions are heightened when rivalries, alcohol and other conflicts are thrown into the mix resulting in a weekend filled with fraught emotions. DuVall’s stance on relationships is low-key and honest in its exploration of people’s imperfections, making it easy to empathise and engage with The Intervention’s range of characters.

Praise should also go to DuVall’s incredibly amusing script with also paints a lighter side to these relationships – as well as playing to the respective strengths of each actor and investing in their unique skillsets. Lynskey is the stand-out as Annie, desperately seeking to control the intervention despite growing inebriation allowing her to deliver a performance packed with laughs, but a sadness in equal measure. Shawkat impresses as the uninhibited young girlfriend of Jack, whose loose sexual politics add to the laughs of The Intervention and give it a light screwball quality. There is a natural charisma within the entire ensemble which ensures that DuVall’s film feels engagingly authentic throughout.

Polly Morgan‘s cinematographer ensures The Intervention‘s breezy and light-hearted tone is channelled into the aesthetic, with the many lakeside exteriors and warm scenery helping capture this.

The Intervention is a gently amusing watch that paints an authentic portrait of relationships. DuVall’s clever character development and directorial eye for comedy, as well as an ensemble of talented performers ensure this is a breezily engaging watch.

[rating=4]|Andrew McArthur

Comedy, Drama | USA, 2016 | Sundance London 2016 | 15 | 3rd June 2016 | Dir.Clea DuVall | Melanie Lynskey, Clea DuVall, Cobie Smulders, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz, Alia Shawkat, Jason Ritter