A room full of presumptuous people.
A room full of presumptuous people. Samuel Goldwyn Films

For her directorial debut, Clea DuVall borrows the template that served John Sayles (Return of the Secaucus 7) and Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill) so well in their early days: thirtysomething friends gather to reminisce over good times and pick at old wounds. Their ulterior motive: to stage an intervention around a toxic marriage.

It's incredibly presumptuous, because it's up to Ruby and Peter (Cobie Smulders and Vincent Piazza) to decide whether to stay together or not, but DuVall doesn't pretend otherwise, since she ends up uncovering a different issue that needs more immediate attention. On the other hand, it's familiar in the way films about not-so-friendly gatherings tend to be, with the exception of those, like Karyn Kusama's The Invitation, where people go nuts. Further, she cedes the primary role to Melanie Lynskey (so great in Hello I Must Be Going) whose overly mannered performance only grows more grating, rather than intriguing, since Annie is hiding something, which becomes too obvious too soon.

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But considering that DuVall shot the film on a small budget over a short amount of time, it's a deft piece of work, and proves she has what it takes to make a go of a directing career, though it would be a real loss if she left acting altogether given her fine-grained performances in films like 21 Grams and Thirteen Conversations About One Thing.


The Intervention, which, by the way, was produced by 2016 Genius nominee for film Mel Eslyn, is now playing at Sundance Cinemas.