‘Band Aid’ Review | Sings from a Marriage

Zoe Lister-Jones and Adam Pally turn their marital strife into music in a funny, sensitive comedy about coping with failure.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

There’s an moment from Zoe Lister-Jones’s Band Aid that I’m not going to forget anytime soon. In the film, Zoe Lister-Jones plays Anna, a struggling writer-turned-Uber driver whose marriage to a graphic designer named Ben (Adam Pally) has degenerated into one fracas after another. Life isn’t going their way, and it hasn’t for a very long time. Their careers and their marriage are, in no uncertain terms, failing.

“Failing,” Anna argues, “makes you a failure.”

“I don’t think so,” Ben replies. “Failing makes you an artist.”

Band Aid is a film about failure. It’s a sweet and funny and likable film about failure. Because failure is never the end of anything, it’s a means to an end. You can’t fail unless you’re genuinely trying, after all. Even though they squabble and spat, Anna and Ben don’t seem to be giving up on their marriage. They aren’t even giving up on their art. They’re just slowly remembering that art isn’t just a means to make money, even though that can sometimes be a pleasant by-product. More than anything else, art is the means to keep your sanity.

IFC Films

IFC Films

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And it ain’t easy, that sanity. Zoe Lister-Jones wrote and directed Band Aid from a very intimate place, deep inside of a marriage at one of its most difficult moments, in which Anna and Ben are overcoming personal obstacles that extend well beyond their stymied careers. They’re coming face-to-face with the fact that they confront life’s biggest problems in completely different ways, and they’re realizing that they’re not necessarily compatible. What Anna and Ben go through would be enough to ruin most relationships, and with good cause.

But there’s an impressive, down to earth nobility about the way these two charming heroes confront their plight. Even their fights are, in some way, about trying to connect. They want to be friends, they want to be lovers, they want to make something of themselves and they want to do so together, positively and productively. Adding a rhythm and a melody reminds them that their conflicts are an unexpected, kooky sort of unity. So they write kooky songs about it, and the songs are – to the film’s great credit – soulful, funny, and pretty darned good.

Band Aid is a momentary movie, the sort of personal expression that might have to come along at exactly the right time in your life to make you cry and laugh and sing. It’s about problems that young people won’t understand and that older people might be wise enough to handle more gracefully. But if you’re struggling, if you feel like a failure, and if you’re fighting with somebody you love, this be just the band-aid you need.

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Top Photo: IFC Films

William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and Canceled Too Soon, and watch him on the weekly YouTube series What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.