Ties that Unbind: Our Review of ‘The Intervention’

Ties that Unbind: Our Review of ‘The Intervention’

It’s pretty clear that those ready to meddle into the personal lives of their friends – even with some expected awkward results- will sooner or later need to turn inward to deal with their own problems.

The Intervention finds a group of friends and family – three couples in total – turning their attention towards a fourth one with obvious marriage problems, as a weekend escape at a country home not surprisingly erupts into a fairly uncomfortable, occasionally silly, and often serious series of problems.

The duo that appears in most need of the titular event is Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), who can’t stop bickering from the moment we meet them. Of course there is also Annie (Melanie Lynskey) and Matt (Jason Ritter), who seem to lack some affection and can’t really pin down a wedding date. Jessie (Clea DuVall, who writes and directs) and Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) are dealing with commitment issues, while Jack (Ben Schwartz) is coping with loss by dating something significantly younger in Lola (Alia Skawkat).

Some of the people are related, and it’s their childhood home we’re returning to, but that matters less, as does the predictable ensuing chaos of the weekend. The Intervention excels in its execution, an engaging balance of the silly and comical with the tense and tragic. DuVall for the most part smartly juggles these eight characters across a weekend, taking time for each to show off both their relationship strengths and weaknesses, what they want and what there are lacking. Sometimes she leans too heavily on some emotional music to underscore the gravity of situations, but she also embraces the beauty of our setting to great effect.

There is payoff too: the intervention as it were eventually takes place, after some failure mind you, and that serves as a pivotal turning point in a film that while conventional, embraces a lot of rough terrain and uncertainty in its resolution. So goes relationships of all kinds.

The Intervention plays at the Inside Out Film Fest on May 31 at 9:30pm at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.