Movie Review: The Intervention (2016)
If the premise is absurd—an intervention by three couples to encourage a fourth to get divorced—the execution isn't bad. First-time writer-director-actress Clea DuVall keeps the movie funny and real. For most of it.
Annie (Melanie Lynskey) is the instigator for the intervention, which takes place at a beautiful home/mansion just outside Savannah, Ga. We first see her on the airplane ordering an orange juice; then, with a glance at her snoozing fiancé, Matt (Jason Ritter, John’s son), she switches to Scotch. It turns out she has a drinking problem, which becomes painfully obvious that first night when she gets blotto. The interventionist needs intervening; the doctor has the disease.
Misson: Break up Lucky Luciano and Agent Maria Hill.
The other couples include Jessie and Sarah (DuVall of “VEEP” and Natasha Lyonne of “Orange is the New Black”), and Jack and Lola (Ben Schwartz and Ali Shawkat, Maeby of “Arrested Development”). If Annie is the most gung-ho, Jack is the biggest foot-dragger. It’s his childhood home they’re visiting, and it contains painful memories—mostly about his first wife, who died of cancer several years earlier. Thus his spin around the world with free-spirit Lola, who is more than a decade younger than anyone else (she doesn't know from “M*A*SH”), and who, during the course of the weekend, makes a pass at Jessie. The turmoil created by the younger, more vivacious partner reminded me of Alan Alda’s successful all-but-forgotten “The Four Seasons,” which did something similar.
As for our awful couple? That’s Peter and Ruby (Vincent Piazza of “Boardwalk Empire” and Colbie Smulders of “The Avengers” movies), and, yes, they argue a lot, and their simmering anger casts a pall over dinner. But it hardly seems worth a cross-country intervention.
Later (or sooner), we realize it’s Annie who needs the intervention. Beyond the booze, she doesn’t want to get married to nice-guy Matt. It’s her impending marriage she wants to break up more than Peter and Ruby’s current one. Which raises the question: why does Jessie go along? Why does Jack, despite the foot dragging?
The intervention doesn’t last long anyway. Everything blows up. Peter takes that cast stone and tosses it back at everyone else, as we knew he would, then stalks out into the woods with a bottle of booze. Jessie and Sarah get into a shoving match on the dock, then a kissing battle with Jack and Lola at the picnic table (nice bit). Annie is semi-contrite but confused. She thought she was helping. (Lynskey is quite good in this.)
Do things get too outsized? Peter switches, literally overnight, from the angry man in the woods to the guy who bakes 20 kinds of breakfast for everyone while planning an all-day boat excursion; Ruby goes from the woman enticing Peter in bed to one who refuses to talk to him at all.
I also would’ve liked less of a “lessons learned” vibe from the ending. As they part, everyone seems to realize the error of their ways; they leave better people. Yuck. I'd like to see an intervention on that.