Review: Band Aid

Band Aid is 2017 Sundance film starring, produced, written and directed by Zoe Lister-Jones about a couple who start a band. Zoe Lister-Jones stars as Anna, a woman trying to start a family with her husband Ben (played by Adam Pally), but they have the problem of arguing over small things that always escalate into heated verbal fights. After a little while, they decide that in order for them to get along well together, they should turn their fights into songs which would force them to work together, even if they’re insulting each other while doing it. I love and respect the hell out of this film, and especially Zoe Lister-Jones for her story and work; she hired an all-female production crew in order to balance out the under-representation of women behind the scenes in Hollywood, and they all did an amazing job making this movie. Without a doubt, this was the most touching film of my trip in the most unexpected of ways. It was just so raw, intimate and honest, and the performances are really what sold it all for me. I went from now knowing who Lister-Jones was, to making a check-list of her filmography so that I can see everything she has been in and appreciate the rest of her work. Not every film I saw was worth the $50 ticket, but this one was worth so much more. These last two films alone would have made my week unforgettable.

As mentioned, this film radiates intimacy that makes it feel so raw and authentic; the relationship between Anna and Ben never felt like a movie couple but like a real couple with real problems. The chemistry that they share is undeniable and absolutely astounding, I loved seeing them together and I hated seeing them fight. I’ll come back to this later with some slight spoilers, but I’ll just say for now that there is a lot more depth in the film that I ever would have expected to see. Of course, as a comedy, there were a lot of over-the-top moments that cracked me up, especially regarding the character that Fred Armisen who plays a sex-addict neighbor and helps out Anna and Ben by being their drummer. He was not the sole instrument of comedy in the film, Lister-Jones was as uproarious as she was heartbreaking and she sold every moment with absolute conviction, but Armisen delivered one hell of a lot of laughs.

All of this movie can be summed up in one word: original (yet that still doesn’t cover how endearing, hilarious and memorable it all was). The story and the characters didn’t remind me of any other film I’ve seen which is saying a lot because I have collected an extensive list of films (see my Letterboxd here). The story alone caught my attention above many, many others on the list that I could have chosen from; going into this film without knowing the cast, just based off of the story was a risk for sure, and I’m glad I took it. Lister-Jones’ writing cannot be complimented enough here; I loved every moment of the film, especially in how open-minded she wrote her characters to be (they trip shrooms and smoke weed) and the social commentary not only on relationships but on the men and women in them, as well as on men and women in general. She’s blunt and honest and it made for a film that did not insult intelligence but was one that I walked out of at the end feeling as though I’ve learned things and grown as a person. I consider myself a very open-minded forward inherently, yet Lister-Jones still taught me a lot about people and relationships in just 90 minutes with people who don’t actually exist in a story about an amateur couple band. Applause is warranted.

I mentioned earlier that I would dive into some brief spoilers, so this paragraph is going to come with a spoiler warning! Later in the movie, it is “revealed” that they have not had a baby yet because of a miscarriage which has tarnished Anna’s dignity as a woman, and has given Ben ammunition against her in arguments that take place. This all leads to an absolutely heartbreaking confrontation between them in the middle of the night and changes the course of the story. What was once a hilarious comedy is now a depressing drama and it shines a new light on both characters and their goals for themselves. Just to make the argument seem more real, it was all done in a single take so that there were no cuts or angles; it seems as though we were right there with them which added a slight uncomfortable edge to the scene and really made it seem as real as the performances were selling it as. The movie has so much more depth than I thought because of this scene. One of the audience members after the film during the Q&A thanked Lister-Jones for her honest representation of people suffering through miscarriages and although my knowledge is little and my gender frowned upon when speaking of subjects like these, I do agree with the audience member that the representation in the film was highly respectable.

Overall, this was easily my favorite Dramatic film at Sundance 2017 and was one hell of a way to finish off my trip. Zoe Lister-Jones is a screenwriting phenomenon and I cannot wait to see what she does next. This movie is not only hilarious but heartbreaking as well; she makes us feel everything with no holds barred. Prepare to smile, frown, laugh, cry, cheer and yell at these characters and most of all, prepared to be blown away by a film that has everything and does it all with flying colors. This film takes a critical eye to relationships, men, women, and people in general; it’s a beautiful story and it’s executed immaculately. I have to give Band Aid 9+/10 and a golden recommendation! Honestly, see this film when you get the chance. It’s impossible to that choice. Have you seen this? What did you think about it? As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

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