Clea DuVall’s directorial debut is an odd mix of comedy, drama and a project that could’ve worked really well in the hands of a more experienced director. The fact that this if DuVall’s first film is extremely noticeable in many of the film’s components, making the viewing experience somewhat tedious. Some great points and concepts are presented but since their execution isn’t the best they’re not as effective as they should be. This film demonstrates greater things are coming from DuVall, she just needs time and practice to master her craft.
Looking way back to directors like Kubrick or Fincher, their first films aren’t the greatest even though they point towards greatness. The same happens here, although the acting is all superb, DuVall does fall into many narrative traps and doesn’t balance the story out completely. The most notable of these problems are as follows: cliches, pacing, odd musical cues, and a troublesome tone. DuVall is already an established actress and jumping in front of the camera she does a great job getting good performances from her cast, making them portray real emotion and drastic feelings on-screen, but when it comes to defining the tone and mood of a scene, DuVall finds herself recurring to musical cues quite a lot. About five minutes into the movie there’s a song that plays that’s supposed to show everyone’s happy they’re all getting together for the weekend and that’s fine, but then for every other scene there’s different snippets of songs tied in that are there to set the tone but just end up being distracting. As for the pacing, this film is 90 minutes long and its all over the place with its pacing sometimes. First it moves quickly and then it just gets really slow for like 45 minutes before the movie is about to end and DuVall resorts to wrapping everything up rather quickly by going with an ending that sort of betrays what the rest of the film was all about.
Like I said, there are some components of this film that work in a rather fantastic manner. For example, the acting which is directed wonderfully by DuVall. Being an actress herself, DuVall really knows how to extract emotion from her characters, specially Melanie Lynskey and Ben Schwartz who are the stand-outs, both of them being funny, grounded human beings that add to the moral of this story. The writing also shines in this film, both in the characters and the majority of the story. All of the characters are treated respectfully and given both negative and positive traits that define, all except for Lola played by Alia Shawkat who is basically just a cartoon version of a free-spirited twenty year old. Now, the story itself is interesting, tricks the audience every now and then, shares moments of well-placed laughter and humanity, and provides an interesting introspective look at failing relationships before it betrays itself in the last act. All of a sudden, DuVall backs out of delivering a hurtful yet truthful message and trades it our for your typical rom-com ending.
The Intervention is a mediocre film that points towards greater things to come. With more practice DuVall could go the way of Jason Reitman Lynn Shelton, but at the moment she’s simply at a starting point. The film falters in its pacing and overall disappointing finale even though the acting is really good and DuVall does manage to include some interesting commentary on relationships.