Relationships aren’t easy. That’s not simply true of romantic relationships, but creative partnerships as well. There’s a reason that so many legendary bands break up and wind up intensely hating each other. However, there’s also a form of catharsis in creative collaboration, which is the central idea of Zoe Lister-Jones’ brilliant new film Band Aid. Here is a wonderful piece of cinema that is brutally honest about relationships and music, deftly handling its dramatic and comedic aspects in a film that is simply a delight to behold.
Anna (Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) have been married for a while, and they fight. They fight a lot. In their marriage is unresolved tension stemming from a miscarriage. Their sex life has all but vanished as well. During a birthday party for one their friend’s children, Anna and Ben pick up instruments and entertain the children with some silly improvised music. Then a spark of inspiration hits them. They decide to form a band where all the songs will be based upon their arguments. Eventually, they’re able to recruit their eccentric neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen) to play drums for them. Just because the couple has found a creative outlet for their mutual tension doesn’t mean that their issues are entirely behind them.
Zoe Lister-Jones writes, directs, produces, and stars in Band Aid, and the film marks the arrival of a serious talent. Over the course of the 90-minute film, Lister-Jones takes the audience through a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s consistently funny with some killer jokes in there. But it’s also incredibly honest with its earnest examination of a relationship under duress.
When we meet Anna and Ben, we can glimpse their disillusionment with one another. We then see them rekindle their romance through these rather catchy punk-like songs based on their arguments, filling the story with a level of warmth. Finally, Lister-Jones pulls the rug out from underneath her characters and it’s impossible not to get wrapped up the heartbreaking arguments. These characters feel so incredibly real that at one particular point I was practically ready to yell at the screen when Ben says the worst possible thing. I could feel my own heart sink and Lister-Jones’ performance convincingly lets you believe that her heart has sunk as well.
Band Aid also captures that joyous thrill of creativity. Anna and Ben are able to break out certain aspects of their own personal funks, which of course have infiltrated their relationship, through creating music. The joy and the sorrow of the film isn’t ever forced. It’s rooted in its characters and their situations. The supporting charters, no matter how minor, flavor this movie with distinct personalities and bubbling spirit of positivity that never obscures its emotional honesty.
From its opening scenes to its conclusion, Band Aid had me enraptured in its wonderful story, and the ebb and flow of its characters. It’ll make you laugh, cry, laugh, cry, and rockin’ out to the songs. This is a distinctly magnificent piece of filmmaking that is truly special and deserves the biggest possible audience. If you’ve ever had relationship troubles or if you’ve ever been in a band (or both), there are a number of things to identify with in this profoundly earnest film. Whatever Zoe Lister-Jones chooses to follow up Band Aid with will automatically have my attention. Films and filmmakers like this don’t just come around every day.
- Overall Score
A magnificent work by writer-director-producer-star Zoe Lister-Jones, Band Aid is a brutally honest and astoundingly funny story of a marriage in trouble given new life through a creative endeavor.