Band Aid Review: A Brutally Honest and Hilarious Romance
In Zoe Lister-Jones’s directorial debut Band Aid, a couple turns their marital fights into songs. The songs are genuinely funny and honest to a fault, which can be said about the film’s overall viewing experience. Jones’s witty script and indie grit style of directing make for a personal experience between audience and characters. We are living with this couple, on their unique journey of song and love, and in turn, get to know them inside and out.
Band Aid is set around married couple Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) who fight constantly. It doesn’t help that they’ve each come to a standstill in their careers. In an unusual turn of events, they come up with a brilliant idea they agree on: Why not start a band and use their arguments as songwriting inspiration? Almost as soon as they dig out their old electric guitars from the garage, it becomes apparent that this is only a temporary distraction from their real problems. A band-aid, if you will.
The chemistry between Lister-Jones and Pally is second to none. As soon as we meet this adorably awkward couple, we know they’ve been together for a long time. No time explanation needed, no dates or years to fall back on, just the strength of this couple aimlessly living their lives. The everyday life of a married couple is the most vulnerable, and for 90-minutes, we are a part of that vulnerability with Anna and Ben. The way they talk, laugh, and argue with one another is nuanced in a way that I felt as if I wasn’t watching a movie. I was a fly on the wall watching someone’s life.
The way Lister-Jones isn’t afraid to “go there” in parts of the film is admirable and appreciated. Band Aid is hilarious. It may be the funniest movie I’ve seen this year so far. Comical moments between the two leads that naturally, with their well realized married banter work so well because of how much you’ve come to love these characters.
Ben is an introverted freelance artist of sorts, designing logos for businesses while in the comfort of his underwear. Anna, a former novelist, now drives Uber to make ends meet, and at the end of the day, both parties are miserable. This results in the two constantly arguing all the time, usually about “stupid shit,” as Ben says in the film.
However, once they agree and put their idea of forming a band into action, Band Aid becomes more than your standard indie comedy. The bond they form through music that’s inspired by a mutual frustration is phenomenal. The more they sing, the less they fight, which is all well and good until the band-aid gets ripped off.
What I found to be bold and sensible about Lister-Jones’s script is just how refreshing it felt. When Anna and Ben start letting their anger be a vessel of expression via music is magical. They’ve lived through so much together, with many ups and downs along the way, which I won’t give any away due to spoilers. When they start creating music the lyrics come to naturally to them, to the point where they joke about the ridiculous fights they once had.
Band Aid becomes much more complicated once it reaches the third act. Anna and Ben realize that this short-term solution of starting a band only masks their issues and does not heal them. The conversations the two have on the more dramatic end of the spectrum are performed wonderfully. Trivial events in their lives are brought up, both pressing the narrative and emotional arc of this couple we’ve fallen in love with. The scenes are almost too real, which is one of the best compliments I can give to the actors involved.
Band Aid does fall into a 3rd act slump. The first hour of this 90-minutes Indie are so excellent and fully realized with humor, that once the big drama starts, the film comes to a halt and slow burn until the end. That doesn’t mean the 3rd act isn’t good, it most certainly is. However, when a film can be so entertaining and fresh for the majority of the movie, the tonal transition is quite jarring.
Still, Band Aid is one of the better indies I’ve seen thus far in 2017. Zoe Lister-Jones is a potent triple threat. Her writing and directing match the story seamlessly, as well as her poignant and charming performance. It’s a film that is not afraid to go to places that married couples often go, which makes for an honest and hilarious story that had me smiling the entire time.
Band Aid opens on June 9th, 2017