Band Aid (2017)
When we first meet married-couple Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally), they are arguing about all the dirty dishes in the sink. Ben claims that he has only put one dish in the sink, all the rest are Anna’s. In fact, he goes so far as to call her a ‘dish Nazi’ to which she takes much offense to since she is Jewish. She calls him “legally retarded” and that she comes from a long line of Holocaust survivors. They get into a shouting match of obscenities that ends with both of them almost singing the obscenities.
Later, they are in the car, and Ben tells Anna that he has to call his mom. Anna begs Ben not to call, even promising sex if he doesn’t, but he does anyway. While he talks with his mom, Anna prepares a small device that looks like a lipstick but is used to smoke pot. While Anna takes a hit, Ben’s mom talks about that he has to give her a grand kid. He hangs up, and they get into an argument about if he has told his mom about her miscarriage. While she has told her parents, he hasn’t told his mom because it would upset her too much.
We next see the couple in counseling. As the counselor looks on exhausted, the couple gets into an argument on who should say sorry to who. The counselor gives them some great advice about how they both are in pain, and they need to get out of the rut of arguing about the same things over and over. She tells them that “their time is up, and I’m moving to Canada.”
Ben and Anna are now at a birthday party for a young boy whose parents they are good friends with. The boy’s mom, Grace (Hannah Simone) asks how high Anna is. Anna says, “on a scale of 1 to 5, a 100. Ben and Anna are dodging conversations about babies and kids right and left with the parents at the party. After some uncomfortable situations, Anna and Ben retreat to the bathroom and sitting on the floor, they start smoking a joint again. Ben and Anna talk about how they aren’t where they thought they would be in their lives.
Next, they are back outside, and they start playing a few kid instruments like a small electric guitar and a microphone. A few of the kids participate as they play a short song that they make up on the fly. We cut to the next morning, and Anna and Ben are in bed. After the discussion gets too serious, Ben talks about how good a time they had yesterday. Anna says she really enjoyed the song and maybe they should turn all their fights into songs. Could this be the way that Anna and Ben start healing their marriage?
Band Aid is a funny, touching, sometimes emotional and poignant look at two people in a marriage who have suffered a devastating loss and are looking for some way to reconnect with each other. They find that through music, using their fights as sources for the songs; they can reestablish their love for each other. First-time director Zoe Lister-Jones finds a perfect mix of comedy and drama that put’s its own spin on the romantic comedy genre with a bit of a musical thrown it. Lister-Jones has created a unique world where our main characters are awash in suburbia and confronted continually with families happily throwing their successes (sometimes on purpose) in the faces of Ben and Anna. Surrounded by this seeming paradise has become hell for the couple, and they have lost their way until they start making music together.
Lister-Jones has created some very complex characters, such as Anna, who not only feels like a failure in not having children but also was once a promising writer who now has to drive a Uber to support her family. Failure is as well at the heart of Ben’s character, who never quite made it as an artist, having given up on the dream a long time ago. Ben now makes an occasional attempt at work (like designing a logo), but he would rather wallow in his misery and play video games all day. Even the secondary characters are full and robust, like weird Dave played by Fred Armisen. Dave is a strange guy who lives in the neighborhood who is a former sex addict. He eventually plays the drums in the band that Ben and Anna form. Dave is the type of guy who just shows up at your house, asks a couple of strange questions and then leaves. His two best friends (played by Jamie Chung and Erinn Hayes) that are also former sex addicts and Dave can’t see that they are gorgeous (he thinks they are plain). It’s a running gag that keeps working throughout the film.
The songs from the film (at least the ones that Ben and Anna play) were written by Zoe Lister-Jones and Kyle Forester and are performed by Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, and Fred Armisen. Most of the songs are hysterical, based on Ben and Anna’s fights (some of the lyrics are direct quotes from their tussles) and several are quite good with excellent hooks. As the couple starts connecting through their songs, they get braver and move out of the garage to perform at a local bar. The band is so good, and the songs are a heck of a lot of fun; they start getting a following and the crowds, once apathetic and small, become quite big and vocal as the movie moves along. As their songs get stronger, so does the connection between Anna and Ben. The songs allow them to feel again and explore their relationship. Both Anna and Ben realize that their lives are just beginning, and they need to quit dredging up the past, thinking about their failures and start looking toward the future.
Like the songs, the dialogue is funny and sometimes moving. Lister-Jones keeps the film proceeding at a nice pace, and some of the best scenes are those quiet times when Ben and Anna start the healing process. There is a scene where Anna has found the joy in living again, and she lines the bed up against the wall and just sort of starts slamming into the bed with a joyous kind of rage. It’s a small scene in the film, but I just love it.
Band Aid is a film that will make you laugh a lot, but for anyone who has had trouble in a relationship, it will also get you to think. Its message is that it’s never too late to save a relationship. It just might take an unconventional way to fix it. Here’s hoping we all find our song to sing with a loved one. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
The film is currently playing in the Atlanta area at the Plaza Theatre
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