I watched most of Clea DuVall’s “The Intervention” while working out recently – it met my qualifications for entertainment that was breezy enough without any nudity – and found myself committing a major gym foul. I had figured out exactly how the movie was working to the point where I could predict the next line of dialogue. And then, it happened. I caught myself involuntarily reciting the next line out loud. (I was right, for the record.)
This wannabe Gen X version of “The Big Chill” features indie stalwarts like Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter and Cobie Smulders on a weekend retreat in Savannah (likely for the tax credits) to stage an intervention in a failing marriage. But, of course, in a grouping of four couples, that one relationship is not the only one in need of some axle grease. Be it a fissure between siblings, lovers or friends, no one can escape the squabbling – including us.
Not every relationship drama needs to be an Edward Albee play, but a little bit of subtlety could have gone a long way in “The Intervention.” No fraying connection can be discovered naturally; instead, it must be laid out a scene of two characters discussing it first in whispered, vague terms. The conversation topics around the dinner table or porch seats could not be more provocative if they tried. If everyone in the film were truly as miserable as DuVall would have us believe, no one would brooch these subjects.
Naturally, the band-aid gets ripped off, opening the floodgates for the closeted resentments to spill out into open conflict. Yet once the truth comes to light, the result is neither cathartic nor enlightening. With every chance, DuVall would rather end a scene with an explosion instead of concluding it honestly or dwelling in the messy irresolution that often defines the sparring between friends and lovers. In “The Intervention,” the easy way is apparently the only way. C /