THE INTERVENTION screened as a part of the U.S. Dramatic category at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. For more information, head here.
I’m not going to lie: I’ve always wanted to be part of an intervention. There’s something exciting about sitting around in a circle trying to “save” someone. If letters are involved, even better. Hopefully I’d be one of the intervention-ers and not the intervention-ee, but I’ll take whatever I can get.
Clea DuVall’s heartwarming, hilarious The Intervention involves a group of good friends, a beautiful house, some corn on the cob, and an intervention that seems doomed from the start. A group of friends—four couples—are gathering together in The Most Beautiful House In All Of Savannah because it’s been ages since they spent proper time together. Annie (Melanie Lynskey) and Matt (Jason Ritter) are planning their wedding but first need to actually send out the save-the-dates; Jessie (Clea DuVall) and Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) are a long-time couple living in LA except they don’t live together, but it’s totally okay; Jessie’s sister Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza) have been married so long they don’t bother celebrating their anniversaries; and Jack (Ben Schwartz) brings along his new, younger girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat).
Except this isn’t a fun-time getaway, guys. This is a … dun-dun-dun: intervention! Annie has orchestrated the entire thing because she’s convinced that Ruby and Peter should no longer be married. Everyone else reluctantly goes along because maybe Annie’s right, and they do seem to hate each other now. As the weekend progresses, however, it becomes clear that the other couples aren’t perfect either.
The Intervention is essentially a look at couples at different points in their relationship and the decisions, the choices, you have to make along the way. On one end of the spectrum, we have Jack and Lola, young lovebirds still in the “Let’s make out everywhere even on this kitchen table!” phase of their relationship. On the other end: Ruby and Peter have been long married with children and no longer seem to be in love with each other. They fight, and it’s vicious and sometimes involves a kickball, yet they’re also the best couple at charades and are undeniably on the same wavelength. And in between, Annie is struggling with her own relationship and an alcohol problem, and Jessie is struggling with a fear of settling down with Sarah.
DuVall, whom you may remember best as *that actress* from assorted great ’90s teen movies (She’s All That, But I’m a Cheerleader), wrote honest, imperfect characters and her actors brought them to life in unforgettable ways. Lynskey is laugh-out-loud hilarious as the meddler and “brains” behind Operation Intervention. And it’s awesome to see Schwartz in a dramatic role (although he’ll always be Jean Ralphio to me). Smulders shines in another indie role (go see Unexpected right now!), but it’s no surprise since she’s already a pro at interventions (ahem, ahem). Tossed into a big house like this, it would be easy to give way to caricatures and melodramatics, but the arguments sting like every fight you’ve ever had and even the few speeches are genuine and never eye-roll inducing. Real emotions, real people, and even real muffins. From scratch!
Complementing the emotional rollercoaster is a beautiful, comforting score from Sara Quinn (of Tegan and Sara) and intimate almost serene cinematography from Polly Morgan. The entire film feels like the warm, comforting blanket of time spent with your best friends and family—the people who know you best, negative bits and all.
Siân Melton is covering Sundance for us live from Park City, Utah. Read about her other work, including her Toronto-based film series The MUFF Society, below.