The Intervention, 2016.
Written and Directed by by Clea DuVall.
Starring Melanie Lynskey, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Cobie Smulders, Vincent Piazza, Ben Schwartz, Jason Ritter, and Alia Shawkat.
Concerned that her friends’ marriage is toxic, Annie (Melanie Lynskey) devises a plan to get the rest of their circle together to orchestrate an intervention.
Peter (Vincent Piazza) and Ruby (Cobie Smulders) are the wedded couple in question. Their circle of unmarried [but qualified] chums include Annie’s fiancée, Matt (Jason Ritter), Ruby’s sister, Jessie (Clea DuVall), and Peter’s best friend, Jack (Ben Schwartz).
That it takes so long for Annie and her recruits to find the right words to say what they’re attempting may be because of what they’re asking. Conventional interventions usually seek an outcome of healing and recovery. This one wants to skip over the “working on it” stage and head straight to divorce. A nod to the prevalence of separations in modern society, the film isn’t criticizing, nor does it paint divorce as the golden answer. What it does promote, for all of its couples, is communication. During a game of charades, Peter and Ruby are unstoppable, to the point that Ruby almost believes that their connection can continue into the night. An attempt to land sexily on their bed, made even trickier by the crutches she has to work around to get there, is tackled for nothing. He gives her the “going to sleep” brush off.
Crutches can fade into the background, serving their practical purpose without fanfare, or they can refuse to be ignored, as Ruby demonstrates the hard way during a kickball game. Peter responds to being publicly confronted about their marriage with a new fervor to prove everyone wrong but his big gestures are the stuff of saving face, not fixing. Similarly, Annie’s intervention sets their much needed confrontation in motion but is packaged in a form that reflects her own needs more than her friends’. She wants Ruby to forget the good times, Peter wants her to forget the bad times, but when old friends come together, truths come out and remembering takes over.
Triple threat Clea DuVall’s first feature film, individual characterizations are strong in The Intervention but juggling nine main characters causes their relationships to fare less well and evenly. Annie, for instance, is one of the most fully developed roles but, when her marriage’s multiple postponements get addressed, the revelation feels plausible but cut off, telling instead of showing. The story is solid and satisfying (if taken one beat too far towards a happy ending for everyone) but given more time, or stretched out to a miniseries, would’ve been able to reach its full potential.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★