2 September 2015 | StevePulaski
An early short from two future greats
The Intervention is one of the first short films by the brothers Duplass, Jay and Mark, who would later go on to pioneer the mumblecore genre in film and eventually form their own film production company singlehandedly. However, before all of that, the two would work to "make films on the weekends," so they claimed, and the result were quirky little oddities like Scrabble, about a man's fit after losing at the popular board game, or This is John, a film where a man tries to record a simple answering machine message and winds up failing repeatedly.
The Intervention is a film that cuts deeper, but falls short of expectations, especially after seeing those two shorts, as it focuses on Steve Zissis's character, who is being poked and prodded by a gang of friends, among them producer Mark Duplass and his future fiancée Kathryn Aselton. They are interrogating him for possibly being homosexual and are getting him to recount past sexual adventures in order to get to the bottom of his orientation.
The result, in fifteen minutes, is an intriguingly tense, but ultimately half-baked film that drums up mildly tense situations but little else. It's a film that tries to create an atmosphere of interest, but because so little is known about the characters in the film and little else besides this interrogation take place, there isn't anything that allows us to connect to anyone on-screen as real characters. What a shame too because Jay Duplass employs his fascinating, albeit slightly tedious, directorial style of slightly zooming in and out of subjects as the scene is ongoing, making the person watching immediately active as their response and conventional senses to the shot have become slightly disrupted.
If anything, The Intervention, like the aforementioned shorts, shows the style the brothers Duplass continued to toy with in their feature-length films and the films for their production company. That style includes naturalism, believable scenarios, and realistic dialog, all of which come into play here to create a marginally satisfying, yet slightly unremarkable short film about something that could've seriously been impacting, especially considering the subject matter.
Starring: Mark Duplass, Steve Zissis, and Kathryn Aselton. Directed by: Jay Duplass.