MQFF review: The Intervention

Clea DuVall’s directorial debut is a snappy, sassy comic ensemble that picks at human foibles in a brazen way. Hilariously wrong. 

Argo star Clea DuVall makes her first foray into behind-the-scenes filmmaking with The Intervention, an occasionally riotously funny and always-enjoyable family reunion/divorce prompting/clusterfuck of personal problems

On both writing and directing duties, DuVall, displaying sharp observational skills and deft comic timing also stars as, Jessie a shy but free-spirited woman whose latest and longest-lasting girlfriend Sarah (Orange is the New Black’s Natasha Lyonne) is a good but older than her usual type.

They have both descended on Jessie’s ridiculously ostentatious and expansive holiday home at the behest of Melanie Lynskey’s Annie, the best friend of Jessie’s sister Ruby (Cobie Smulders, Avengers), basically so they can call out the slow and horrible death of her marriage to Vincent Piazza’s Peter, calling for them to split and ne happy once more. Which is a pretty outrageous thing to do in a group scenario that also involves their reluctant brother Jack (Ben Schwartz) nursing his own heartache and who has brought along a much younger, free-spirited girl no one else knows, Lola (Arrested Development’s Alia Shawcat).

Further complicating matters, Annie seems to be living in a glass house, having postponed her wedding to the adorably dorky and sweet-natured Matt (Jason Ritter) multiple times and being a little too fond of the bottle. Plus Lola’s bisexuality, youth and crush on Jessie antagonises and already brittle tinderbox which erupts with wonderfully farcical results.

A tight comedy with plenty of heart and even more humour, DuVall hits the ground running here with a rollicking jaunt through human foibles that are recognisably cringe-worthy. The performances are universally brilliant, particularly a wildly en pointe Lynskey, and there’s een time for a few genuinely affecting quiet moments too, if a little over-egged when it comes to the Ruby and Peter resolution. At 90 minutes, The Intervention is a snappy crowd-pleaser and eminently quotable comedy ensemble.

Stephen A Russell @SARussellwords

★★★1/2