Sundance 2017 Review: Band Aid is a Powerful and Creative Depiction of True Love.
Each and every year at Sundance, I find a film that I connect with and love. I started day 6 of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival wondering if I was going to find that film this year. Little did I know when walking into the Eccles on Tuesday afternoon that Band Aid would become that film.
Band Aid follows Ben (Adam Pally) and Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones), a married couple as they make their way through their daily lives. Ben works from home designing logos while Anna is an uber driver. They are in love but fight on a daily basis. They go to couples counseling, but alas that doesn’t seem to help. Determined to stop the fighting once and for all, Anna and Ben look for a creative way to express their frustrations with one another. The couple ultimately decides to turn their fights into songs and start a band.
Wow! was my honest reaction as the end credits began to roll during the World Premiere of Band Aid. I can not remember the last time that I saw a film that depicted marriage so truthfully. As a married man, I find myself most interested in films that focus on relationships and marriage. The realness captured in Band Aid broke me. I found myself so emotionally invested in this couple’s story that at certain points I could help but get teary eyed. I tried but couldn’t hide how certain moments in this film hit me in such a way that I felt like I was watching my own marriage on-screen.
Zoe Lister-Jones does the impossible and creates a film about true love that is comedic, heartbreaking, and creative. There have been hundreds of dramas about marriages falling apart, yet I can’t remember the last time I saw a film that tackles the struggles of marriage with such conviction and passion as this one does. Anna and Ben write songs to express their anger. This concept is such a unique idea that oddly enough has never been done before. Each time the couple writes and performs a song, it is different from the last. Each song tackles a certain topic in which they fight about. The songs are written and performed perfectly.
When someone is married or in a long-term committed relationship things change. Couples tend to fight as part of any committed relationship. In the film, Ben and Anna don’t fight because they hate each other but rather because they are frustrated with things that are occurring or have happened in their lives. There is a lot going on in Ben and Anna’s relationship. These things are hinted upon but aren’t immediately revealed to the audience. Lister-Jones takes her time to build the chemistry and backstory between Anna and Ben. We initially see this married couple arguing over silly things like dirty dishes in the sink, but as the story progresses we see how their relationship has changed and why. The entire film is very true to life. I found it somewhat shocking to learn during the Q&A that this story isn’t directly based on Lister-Jones own life.
While the film is emotionally charged, it is also incredibly funny. As someone who doesn’t have children yet, the scene where Anna and Ben go one of their friends’ house to celebrate their kids birthday is an absolute riot. Not only is this scene funny because of some of the strange things that occur but because it captures how awkward couples without children feel when hanging out with their friends who have kids. It is an odd experience that is captured so perfectly early on in the film.
Speaking of funny, Fred Armisen‘s character Dave is hilarious and weird. Dave is Anna and Ben’s next door neighbor and becomes the drummer in their band. The role of Dave will probably work best for those that have lived or currently live in some sort of major metropolitan area. I like that even though Dave was primarily in the story to provide laughs, it was nice to see that the character was also given a purpose. Dave does play a pretty important role in Anna and Ben’s life as they continue to work on the problems in their marriage.
Even with the great script, Band Aid works as well as it does because of the performances by Adam Pally and Zoe Lister-Jones. From the very first scene, you can see that these two actors poured their heart and soul into these roles. Pally and Lister-Jones have amazing chemistry and play off one another with such ease. When their characters are laughing and having fun, you feel happy for them. When they are fighting, it is heartbreaking and devastating.
I love Adam Pally in nearly everything, but his performance in Band Aid is a career defining performance. He has this unique ability to be hilarious in one scene, and so emotionally raw in the next. I can tell that he felt very connected to the material. Zoe Lister-Jones’ performance has so many layers to it and is handled with such passion. There is a fight between Anna and Ben that occurs an hour into the film. This scene is so powerful that it feels like you are watching a real married couple fight right in front of your eyes. I could not believe how dark this argument got and the things that were said. This scene captures exactly what happens when people keep their feelings locked up inside. This is the scene that broke me.
Before I bring this review to a close, I must talk about one more scene that stood out to me. Without spoiling anything, something happens between Anna and Ben which results in Ben talking to his mother about their marriage. It is during this scene where Ben’s mom played by Susie Essman explains the differences between a man and woman. I have never in my entire life heard such an accurate description of what it is about a woman’s way of thinking that is so different than that of a man. I feel like this scene should be played during every single relationship counseling session. It hits the nail on head.
Band Aid is a powerful and creative depiction of true love. It is emotionally raw, hilarious, and wildly original. Adam Pally has never been better, and Zoe Lister-Jones is a triple threat. This is hands down the best film of Sundance 2017 and one of the most honest films about marriage that I have ever seen in my life. Zoe Lister-Jones has crafted a near-perfect film that will connect with almost every married couple in some way. I love this film so much and cannot wait to rewatch the film with my wife by my side.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s final rating for Band Aid is a 9 out of 10.