Band Aid, 2017.
Written and Directed by Zoe Lister-Jones.
Starring Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Colin Hanks, Brooklyn Decker, Jamie Chung, Erinn Hayes, and Fred Armisen.
A couple who can’t stop fighting embark on a last-ditch effort to save their marriage: turning their fights into songs and starting a band.
It should go without saying, but music has a much more profound purpose than simply being labeled as mere entertainment. Lyrics especially can be meditative and allow a greater range of personal expression to cope during negative times. Case in point, we have Anna (played by Zoe Lister-Jones also producing, writing, and directing her debut feature) and Ben (typical supporting player Adam Pally getting an opportunity at a leading role) introduced to us mid fairly heated argument (about something as silly and pointless as cleaning dishes nonetheless). The words hurled at each other are often nasty and borderline offensive, initially giving the impression that it’s a marriage beyond saving, but the genuine performances from both actors are so believable and layered that underneath all of the insults, it’s understandable why they are a couple and how they could have developed reciprocated feelings in the first place.
Of course, as Band Aid continues to unfold we learn more about the frustrated lovers and the unfortunate events that triggered their rough patch, but what sets the little independent film apart from other romantic comedies is its exploration of creating music together as a coping mechanism to release anger and move on from fights. In a not shell, the duo has their love for music rekindled, and it proves to be much more liberating and productive therapy than traditional relationship counseling (which they do try and fail at in hilarious fashion).
Aside from being naturally funny (Lister-Jones and Pally have fantastic chemistry together, displaying similar senses of humor and other shared interests while simultaneously highlighting their opposing personality traits and frustrations that have sent their relationship on a downward spiral), the songs are also structured in a fun way where the two pick a subject of one of their most crippling arguments and give back and forth passive aggressive line exchanges. Although the film can occasionally get repetitive, the numbers do remain consistently catchy grunge sounding rock and there are noticeable, positive changes in the behavior of the characters from pouring their hearts into not just a passionate hobby, but a marriage saving bonding activity.
For some additional humor, Anna and Ben enlist the help of an oddball, idiosyncratic recovering sex addict named Dave (played by Fred Armisen) as their drummer rounding out the musically inclined trio. It’s not exactly the most highbrow comedy but is definitely a welcome presence to lighten the mood.Unexpectedly,
Unexpectedly, Band Aid is not afraid to veer into some dark emotional territory (the laughs kind of fade away during the last 30 minutes), as it becomes clear that the band is also a deflection of serious issues further fracturing their once-promising marriage day by day. It is also here that, as a director, Zoe Lister-Jones is able to dive into numerous other topics ranging from depression, hopelessness, gender politics, gender relationship roles, and more for a final act that does admittedly feel a little too busy despite cutting deep in some areas stronger than others.
On top of all that, Band Aid is simply a very funny movie boasting strong writing and acting (the emotional pain in Anna is palpable) allowing both halves of the relationship to demonstrate a hefty amount of complexion, making their struggles come across empathetic. It’s clear that both parties are at fault to a degree for the failing marriage, but it’s easy to watch and forgive the characters make mistakes because not only are they human, we understand them. And hey, maybe the answer to destructive couple fighting is to come together and create some form of art, while never giving up on the other person or forgetting what brought them together. The answers aren’t definitive; we end each day with a more firm grasp on life but not all-knowing knowledge. However, what is absolute is that Zoe Lister-Jones’ debut feature is a success on all fronts that examines deeper intricacies of failing relationships with hard-hitting genuineness and authenticity.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★