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The Intervention, written, directed by and starring Clea DuVall is a solid comedy/drama that has a little too much going on for its relatively short runtime.
Four couples go on a weekend getaway, but unbeknownst to one of them, the trip is actually intended as an intervention for their declining marriage. Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza) are constantly at each other’s throats and some of their friends feel they would be better enough apart. However, the intervention does not go quite as planned, as all four couples will have to deal with some tough problems of their own before the weekend is over.
The Intervention is reminiscent of a theater production, what with its large cast of characters limited to a single setting. It’s easy to see how the material could be adapted to stage, and it might be better suited for it. The four couples represent different relationship stages, from puppy love all the way to crumbling marriage and all eight characters have their own ongoing stories that get intertwined in a variety of ways. Jessie (DuVall) and Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) have been together for a long time, but still live apart and there’s some unresolved tension that’s about to boil over. Annie (Melanie Lynskey), who organized the intervention, has postponed her wedding to Matt (Jason Ritter) several times now and has a recurring drinking problem. Jack (Ben Schwartz), who’s clearly running away from something in his past, has started a relationship with Lola (Alia Shawkat), who is much younger than him and a stranger to the group. All of this is combined with the problems in Ruby and Peter’s marriage.
It’s simply too dense of a narrative for a 90 minute runtime and that unfortunately means that The Intervention often takes shortcuts to make it all work. Early scenes between Ruby and Peter meant to establish their relationship woes feel too heavy-handed, with the two of them always fighting and the third act resolution is somewhat abrupt. The characters beats are well thought out and meaningful in theory, but the execution is rushed at times and the movie suffers for it.
At one point the couples play charades and the scene is meant to establish that for all of their bickering, Ruby and Peter still have some sort of connection. The two of them winning the game handily because of their easygoing dynamic feels absolutely jarring when compared to their previous scenes, because of how far the movie had to push to make them at odds with each other for the purposes of the story.
While it is rough around the edges, The Intervention does maintain a very good balance of comedy and drama. The movie captures the inherent awkwardness of the situation and knows when to play it for laughs and when to go for uncomfortable tension.
The cast is well rounded and everyone has good chemistry. Clea DuVall shifts between the different relationships when it’s appropriate and gives them mostly equal footing in the story. Lola and Jack feel a little left out of the loop at times, which has more to do with the overall pacing problems than anything else.
It feels as if the movie should have either been longer to accommodate for its packed narrative, or one of the couples should have been written out entirely. The longer runtime is probably the optimal solution, since, honestly, all of the couples have a point in the story and are pretty interesting and likable as characters.
The Intervention has room for improvement, but it’s still pretty enjoyable overall. All of the right ingredients for a great comedy/drama are present, even if the final product does not quite live up to its potential.