Actor/writer Zoe Lister-Jones (New Girl) comes out swinging with her directorial debut, Band Aid, a meditative look at the drudgery of relationships, the loss of one's passions and the valuable idea that failing can be perceived more productively as growth.
Lister-Jones, who also penned the screenplay, is Anna, a writer-turned-Uber driver struggling with a squandered book deal and a recent miscarriage, both of which have put an incredible strain on her marriage with Ben (consummate indie champ Adam Pally), a struggling artist in his own right. Both cling to their miseries as an excuse to not address underlying issues with failure and one another, but rather than call it quits, Ben and Anna stumble into a songwriting partnership wherein tunes are written in the wake of their worst recurring arguments.
It's equal parts funny and charming, and with original songs written by Lister-Jones herself that fall somewhere between Guided by Voices and David Byrne, Anna and Ben slowly rebuild their connection alongside their sex-addict neighbor (played deftly and perfectly weird by the always brilliant Fred Armisen); their goof-around garage band becomes more of a necessary outlet than time-killer; like a therapeutic compartmentalization of their own bullshit played out creatively in a safe space.
Lister-Jones is a revelation, at once funny and sweet yet human and accessible—a cool girl consumed by almost crippling levels of self-doubt, making her all the more authentic as a character. Pally charms as well as a self-proclaimed realist who, like Anna, can also access short-tempered cruelty in the heat of a fight—though, to both actors' credit, we never doubt their love even as they take out their own frustrations on one another.
Band Aid is important viewing for anyone from couples to creatives grappling with their own shortcomings and doubts. Yes, it's a romantic comedy, but by astutely avoiding the idea of the band as quick fix, a painful yet beautiful story emerges in one of the best indie films in years. (Alex De Vore)
+ Lister-Jones is phenomenal
- Unnecessary psychedelic drug scene
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Center for Contemporary Arts,