“The Intervention” is basically “The Big Chill” for today’s thirtysomethings except instead of gathering for a buddy’s funeral, the gang’s all here to stage a secret intervention for their unhappily married friends Ruby and Jack (Cobie Smulders and Vincent Piazza).
The group of affluent pals is led by commitment-phobe alcoholic Annie (Melanie Lynskey) and her fiancée Matt (Jason Ritter), a sweet guy who just wants to settle down and have a wife and a family. Ruby’s sister Jessie (Clea DuVall) is on hand with her long time girlfriend Sarah (a fantastic Natasha Lyonne), as well as recently widowed Jack (Ben Schwartz) and his new young fling of the month, Lola (Alia Shawkat).
There’s a genuine, sincere camaraderie among the actors which adds to the overall credibility of the story. The acting is authentic and raw (with the exception of the over-the-top, annoying Lynskey, one of my least favorite indie actresses working today). This small, low budget film stays afloat because of the chemistry of the actors.
These characters are all a complete mess but I found each of their stories compelling. Not too much is revealed about the main characters; we only learn of their own personal issues and motivations through their actions (and lack thereof). Observant viewers will be rewarded and as is the case with most dramatic independent films, it’s not the sort of movie where you can simply turn off your brain and tune out. The film also features the most realistic portrayal of a lesbian couple that I’ve seen since “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” and the script (written by DuVall, who also directs with much sophistication) is surprisingly wise.
In the tradition of the mumblecore film movement, “The Intervention” can be trying at times, making the viewer feel uncomfortable as if we are sitting there watching a trainwreck unfold right in front of us. We all know relationships can be stressful, so there’s a lot of yelling, a lot of talky discussions, and a lot of crying. But at this film’s heart is a brutally honest look at love and friendship.
Four unhappy and unpleasant couples gather in a home for a long weekend. One of the couples doesn’t know the real purpose, which is a staged intervention to address their crumbling marriage.
“The Intervention” is like a cut-rate version of the Adam Scott movie, “The Overnight,” featuring characters that are more unpleasant played by actors who are less appealing (I’m not talking about you, Jason Ritter — I still love you, especially in “Another Period“). The movie plays as a potent reminder of why it’s important to have characters that are either relatable or sympathetic; to make them so, you must give the audience something to relate to. For the couples in “The Intervention”, we get nothing. The people ARE there issues. Every single couple is introduced by one or more of their defining problems… and then we get nothing else, nothing to hold on to, nothing to make us like them more.
If watching a bunch of unpleasant and unlikable couples fight with one another for 90 minutes appeals to you, then “The Intervention” is the movie for you. But if you want a little bit of sweet with your sour, then skip this one.