Improvisation seems to often have a bad reputation, and when it’s bad…it’s really bad. However, there have been some shining examples in film – such as Creep from 2014, or 2013’s Coherence – that have proven with the right talent, it can be pretty great. Now new indie comedy An Intervention (2020), directed by Dan Eden, can also be added to that list, which showcases an ensemble of quirky and quick-witted actors who improvised their own dialogue for the film.
The mockumentary follows Chelsea (Kaitlin Eden) and her husband Graig (Jeremy M. Eden) as they bring together a band of dyfunctional and clashing characters to intervene in Chelsea’s ex-boyfriend Henry’s (Phil Platakis) drinking problem. The result is a chaotic evening with hilariously unaware characters who range from bad in a It’s Always Sunny in Philidelphia kind of way (such as Fire Tank Frank, played by Ryan O’Hara), to self-absorbed but well-intentioned.
Platakis’s quieter performance as Henry while is stuck in the middle of louder personalities provides a good contrast and a grounded character. Nevertheless, while the others are mostly quite over-the-top characters, each have some level of relatability and humanity to them in their flaws. K. Paul Pennington (Bryan Schmiderer) and Kat (Katie Binkley) are some personal favourites – although Graig is probably the best due to the pure Guillermo from What We Do in the Shadows energy Eden exudes. Despite the dysfunction many of the characters create, there’s still an endearing element to some of them.
Overall, the film is an enjoyable and well-paced comedy that manages to succeed not only in terms of improvised performances, but also technically in its handheld camerawork (which luckily, isn’t overdone) and good sound quality – something I’ve seen too often dismissed on some low-budget productions. An Intervention is now available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, and if you enjoy The Office – especially the ‘Dinner Party’ episode – this should be right up your street.