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You gotta give a film credit when it takes something as mundane as a couple fight and turns it into a theme, and a funny one at that. Most movies take a fight and either break the couple up or send them to the sack, but with Zoe Lister-Jones‘s latest, they head to the garage … and sing songs. It’s an amusing setup with some clever bits and for what it is – a quirky little indie gig – works very well. Light, breezy, and charming, it taps right into the genre hotspots and delivers.
Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) are a good-looking, seemingly on target, couple. Nice house, good friends and so forth. Livin’ the dream as it were but there is a snag. They fight incessantly. Not knock down drag outs but bickering and battles that are wearing them down. They love each other but can’t stand being in the same room. So what’s a couple to do? They try counseling but find a connection in a better place, their garage and take to writing and singing songs about their conflicts. Joining them is next door neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen), a former sex addict who loves to drum but has great difficulty in dealing with Anna and Ben’s squabbling, which grow worse as they dig down deep to find new material and open old wounds.
Lister-Jones, in her directorial debut (she also wrote the story), follows a well-worn template, doling out a number of familiar catch-alls but knows the ropes well enough to keep it all interesting and better still, mostly effective. From obnoxious-ish mother-in-laws to beautiful temptations, to quips about sex and drugs, there’s a lot here we’ve seen before but delivered with a confident hand and Lister-Jones reveals that while she feels stable in a comfort zone, can squeeze plenty of entertainment from it. The best parts come from originality, with the music the highlight, the transitions from snarky sarcasm to bitter hits and so forth that unearth real hopes and dreams is a clever bit for therapy and there’s a lot of fun and emotional payoff watching it develop. That in itself though causes some minor issues with tone as Lister-Jones reaches for some more powerful raw moments that are sometimes undercut by the overall sense of humor.
That said, the film is pretty darned observant of life in the married lane and there are some good moments that help the film a lot. It’s all about communication of course, and it’s refreshing to see a filmmaker take that banal sentiment and wring some new life out of it. Lister-Jones and Pally make a great on-screen couple and share some truths that lift this just above expectations, buoyed by another quirky performance from Armisen who can do this kind of thing his sleep by now but manages to create another amusing character.
Band Aid doesn’t pull any punches as it progresses and a third act gets brave with some honesty, but the film doesn’t have the urgency or weight of some of the bigger hitters in the genre. Nonetheless, this isn’t trying to be those movies and is more interested in the premise, staging these two well-crafted characters around improv and music. It’s a personal debut and promises surprises yet to come.
Movie description: Band Aid is a 2017 comedy about a young struggling couple who take to music to try to find a way to heal their constant fighting, learning to connect through songs.
Director(s): Zoe Lister-Jones
Actor(s): Zoe Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, Fred Armisen
Genre: Comedy, Drama