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The Intervention DVD Review

The Intervention (2016) movie poster The Intervention

Theatrical Release: September 1, 2016 / Running Time: 89 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Clea DuVall

Cast: Clea DuVall (Jessie), Melanie Lynskey (Annie), Natasha Lyonne (Sarah), Vincent Piazza (Peter), Jason Ritter (Matt), Ben Schwartz (Jack), Alia Shawkat (Lola), Cobie Smulders (Ruby)

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After twenty years of screen acting, Clea DuVall is probably someone you recognize from movies like Girl, Interrupted, She's All That, Identity, and Argo as well as TV series like "Heroes",
"American Horror Story", and "Veep." At 39, DuVall doesn't seem destined for leading lady status, but to the talent that has made her a perennial supporting actress, DuVall reveals further creativity on The Intervention, an independent film that marks her writing and directing debut.

The Intervention gathers eight people forming four couples for a little vacation at one of their families' old summer homes. Most of the eight are lifelong friends now in their thirties. That design may recall the likes of Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill. Younger viewers might be reminded of Couples Retreat. But DuVall's extensive experience in indie films brings a not very mainstream sensibility to this dramedy, which in spirit is closer to the mumblecore works of Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers.

Annie (Melanie Lynskey), who is long engaged and soon to be married to Matt (Jason Ritter), wishes to use the occasion for the group to intervene in the marriage of Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza), a union that everyone can see has been devoid of happiness for a very long time. As expected, Ruby and Peter butt heads almost non-stop upon arriving at the scenic lake house, letting up only for a game of charades. But how do you tell two friends you care about deeply that they should get a divorce?

Annie wrestles with that issue, not getting a whole lot of help from lesbian couple Sarah (Natasha Lyonne) and Jessie (DuVall), who are having their own issues, like still not cohabitating after three years together. The ensemble is completed by Jack (Ben Schwartz), who brings his significantly younger girlfriend Lola (Alia Shawkat) into the mix to some skepticism.

In Clea DuVall's "The Intervention", eight adults (including Alia Shawkat, DuVall, Ben Schwartz, Natasha Lyonne, Cobie Smulders, and Jason Ritter) come together for a short vacation together.

The Intervention is sometimes funny. More often, it is intelligent. While assigning issues to all four couples, from Annie's drinking to Jessie being caught kissing Lola, renders the proceedings a tad formulaic, DuVall does invest into these characters, giving them enough depth to explore at length, while keeping the piece spry and nimble.
The movie does occasionally flirt with inanity, like having Sarah and Jessie take a lake fight into a fully-clothed shower argument. But even the wrong turns do not keep the movie from realistically and sensibly tackling problems that couples and adults in this age group face, from fear of commitment to passionless boredom.

DuVall seems comfortable behind the camera the first time and has no difficulty blending into an ensemble instead of seizing the spotlight on the other side of it. Her castmates also approach their characters tactfully, maintaining a tricky tone without any major concerns.

Of course, being a low-budget independent film with relatively little star power, no high concept, and minimal sizzle, The Intervention was destined to make do with the obscurity of limited theatrical release. It did that, playing for just the first week of September in 17 theaters, from which it grossed an insignificant $33 thousand. Distributed in theaters by Samuel Goldwyn, Intervention hits home video today from Paramount, who does not bother with a Blu-ray edition, leaving this a DVD exclusive in the world of physical media.

The Intervention DVD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com DVD Details

2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Extras Captioned and Subtitled
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.98
Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase
Also available on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

The Intervention doesn't get quite the presentation that most of its contemporaries do on account of the fact that it gets a DVD-only release. Still, the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is perfectly satisfactory for standard definition, as is the basic but serviceable Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Cobie Smulders shares a laugh with Ben Schwartz in the Tegan and Sara "Fade Out" music video. Cobie Smulders shares a laugh with co-star/writer/director Clea DuVall in The Intervention's blooper reel.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Intervention is joined by two bonus features on DVD.

First, Tegan and Sara's "Fade Out" music video (2:15)
consists entirely of behind-the-scenes footage from the movie's filming. It's the closest we get to the obligatory making-of piece here.

Second and last, we get a blooper reel (4:02), which preserves compiles cast members using their hands to stand in for clapboards and various laughing episodes and goofs.

No trailers for this or anything else are included here.

The static, silent main menu adapts the poster/cover art, distributing the eight principals so that the 16:9 screen is filled.

With no digital copy included, there's also no reason for an insert to be found across from the plain gray disc inside the unslipcovered eco-friendly black keepcase.

Contentious couple Ruby (Cobie Smulders) and Peter (Vincent Piazza) awkwardly find themselves subjected to a marriage intervention by their friends.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Clea DuVall makes an agreeable filmmaking debut on The Intervention, a watchable indie dramedy with some thoughts and ideas about relationships and being in your thirties. Paramount's lightweight DVD lends much more to renting than buying, though I have my doubts that many will do either.

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: Punch-Drunk Love Hell or High Water The Sea of Trees Indignation Imperium Maggie's Plan Cafe Society
Melanie Lynskey: Happy Christmas Sweet Home Alabama Away We Go Win Win
Cobie Smulders: Delivery Man Avengers: Age of Ultron | Jason Ritter: Our Very Own The Meddler
Clea DuVall: The Faculty Argo Zodiac | Natasha Lyonne: Sleeping with Other People Girl Most Likely
Alia Shawkat: The Driftless Area Green Room Ruby Sparks Cedar Rapids | Ben Schwartz: This Is Where I Leave You The Walk

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Reviewed November 29, 2016.



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