The Intervention

The Intervention ★★★½

“I know Apples to Apples was discussed but I don’t like this game.”

Clea DuVall is the kind of actress you’ve seen in things but you can’t remember. I first saw her in Girl, Interrupted and remembered her quiet nature and obvious queerness. Despite The Intervention being her feature directorial debut she’s directed several shorts for the musical group Tegan and Sara, the latter of which did the music for the film.

The film’s premise is simple enough. A group of friends--four couples--get together at one of the friend’s summer homes. The group is really there to stage a marriage intervention for one of the couples, Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), who they have agreed need to get divorced. The friends all having differing opinions on the level of involvement they each should be taking with Lynskey's Annie pulling all the micromanaging strings.

When an actor turns director they get all their friends to be in their movie. My overwhelming fear with that is usually it’s because of two things: 1. They can’t sell other actors on the script/project and or 2. Their friends are too nice to tell them how shitty their work is an accidentally becomes overly supportive to the point that they end up in it. Luckily that is not all the case her. Also luckily I love Clea DuVall’s friends.

The film is a reunion for DuVall, Melanie Lynskey and Natasha Lyonne, who all worked together in Jamie Babbit’s 1999 queer film ...But I’m a Cheerleader. As someone who has shamefully not seen that film I am somehow more eager to see it now than I was before. The effortlessness of these women, as well as the stunner remaining cast, is incredible. The other delightful members we are blessed with are Jason Ritter, Cobie Smulders, Ben Schwartz, Alia Shawkat and Vincent Piazza. Vincent Piazza was the only unfamiliar face to me but after seeing him in this I’m hoping to see more of him. None of them are clear standouts as the script gives each of them good laughs, motivations and defining moments. I suspect one will just latch onto their favorite actor among them--for me it’s always Lynskey whose commitment to her controlling, frustrating character made her as sympathetic as she is insufferable.

Despite the premise and twists and turns appearing largely transparent it is still full of surprises. It deviates from the screwball comedy the title suggests and in turn asks the audience to decide who in fact is receiving the intervention. The script is witty, funny, frustrating and occasionally emotional. Each character’s inner life is seen despite DuVall having to balance all eight of them both on the page and on screen. The dialogue is simple and naturalistic. The humor is goofy but also often brutal and crisp as the characters throw passive aggressive insults left and right. If you thought The Invitation had a dinner party from hell you should give this one a chance. I’d watch this twelve for times before even thinking about watch The Invitation again.

I can’t blame Clea DuVall for making this primarily to make out with Natasha Lyonne. I was quite surprised, however, that the end credits included a thank you to both Ben and Casey Affleck. I know she was in Argo but dear god someone tell me what that’s about I gotta know!

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