Sundance London Reviews: The Intervention

Director: Clea DuVall

1h 30min | Comedy, Drama | 26 August 2016 (USA)

Playing Sundance London 2016

RATING: ★★☆☆☆

Writer director Clea Duvall’s (known for Argo, Girl Interrupted and The Faculty, and recently seen on Better Call Saul) competently-handled but ultimately slight relationship comedy-drama feels like something of a throwback: with a plot that involves gathering a group of middle-class but messed-up people in an isolated house, throwing in loads of booze, secrets and simmering resentments, and letting them have at it. There isn’t really anything here you haven’t seen before; a weekend getaway in a gorgeous Savannah clapboard mansion for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was in fact orchestrated so the rest could perform an ‘intervention’ on their marriage, essentially with the purpose of suggesting they split up so as to end the fireworks. Of course, it all goes wrong, and some unexpected twists and turns occur before the (largely) happy resolution.

The real problem here, despite some moments of genuine humour (such as a sequence where a “revenge kiss” escalation occurs) is that it ultimately is not that much fun to spend this intervention time with these characters, most of whom just come off as self-obsessed, irritating, or just plain cliched, more so the longer you hang with them. Melanie Lynskey is perhaps the worst offender here, her self-help guide quoting busybody character, Annie, is almost solely focused on being ridiculously insensitive and prying, and her constant flaking out over making the announcement that this gathering is, in fact, an intervention is a running gag that is both unbelievable and overused. Cobie Smulders as Ruby is stuck in a one-note role where she just has to look frustrated and/or angry, with Clea Duvall not giving her own character much more. To its credit, the film swerves away from doling out some of the more conventional outcomes for the couples, but its hard to get that invested in them in the first place or believe this intervention would even take place as it does.

Comment

Owen Van Spall

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