Friday, April 06, 2018

Band Aid (2017 film)

Written, directed, and co-starring Zoe Lister-Jones, Band Aid is the story of a married couple who decide to form a band as a way to channel their frustrations with each other into music. The film is a look into a marriage that is on the verge of disintegration where two people decide to make an attempt to save the marriage through playing music. Also starring Adam Pally, Brooklyn Decker, Susie Essman, Hannah Simone, Retta, Ravi Patel, and Fred Armisen. Band Aid is a witty and whimsical film from Zoe Lister-Jones.

The film follows a couple whose constant arguments and frustration towards one another is leading them to a divorce until they find their musical instruments in a garage where they form a band in a last-ditch effort to save their marriage. It’s a film with a simple premise as it relates to this couple in Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) whose marriage is in a slump as they tried everything as their professional lives hasn’t made them any happier either. During a birthday party for the child of friends, Anna and Ben find themselves playing instruments as it gave them a bit of joy as they seek out their old musical instruments and form a band with their neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen) as a way to play out their frustrations toward one another. Lister-Jones’ screenplay does showcase Anna and Ben dealing with their frustrations toward each other and the fact that they’re still dealing with a bigger issue that they haven’t really touched upon.

Especially as Anna’s attempt to be a successful writer has failed forcing her to drive for Uber while Ben’s own artistic pursuits has also floundered forcing him to make logos for corporate companies. The sudden re-interest towards music has them figuring some stuff out as they create songs about their own troubles as it play into the two sorting out their issues. Even as they would get better musically and personally with Dave’s help on drums but there are still some troubling aspects about their own faults that would come.

Lister-Jones’ direction is quite straightforward in terms of the compositions and setting as it is largely shot in California with its beaches and suburban areas. While there’s some wide shots in the film for the location, much of Lister-Jones’ direction involve more intimate shots in the close-ups and medium shots to get a scope of having the entire band in the frame as well as in a few of the performances. Much of Lister-Jones’ direction play into some offbeat humor as it relates to the musical performances as well as Anna and Ben coping with their own issues. The third act as it relates to some of the anxieties they would have in their own faults and failures in the past. It would be dramatic as Lister-Jones’ direction of an argument is told in one long take with a tracking shot as it help play into the intensity of the argument as well as an issue that they haven’t really confronted that is the source of their frustration. It would play into the two confronting this source of anger and frustration individually as well as question whether their marriage can be saved and if music can do that for them. Overall, Lister-Jones creates a compelling yet lively film about a floundering couple playing music in an attempt to save their marriage.

Cinematographer Hillary Spera does excellent work with the film’s cinematography for the natural sunny look of the daytime exteriors as well as some unique lighting for the interior/exterior scenes at night including the bar where the open mic nights happen. Editor Libby Cuenin does brilliant work with the editing as it has elements of jump-cuts but is mainly straightforward to play into the music as well as some of the film’s humor. Production designer Hillary Gurtler and set decorator Erin Eskila do fantastic work with the look of Anna and Ben’s home including their garage as well as the more spacious home of Dave.

Costume designer Sarah Fleming does nice work with the costumes as it is largely casual with some stylish clothing that Anna and Ben wear during their live performances to a small audience. Sound editor Penny Harold does superb work with the sound as it play into the way the music sounds as well as the other natural elements in the various locations in the film. The film’s music by Lucius is terrific for its low-key mixture of dreamy electronic music and indie folk sounds with other similar musical styles provided by music supervisor Alison Rosenfeld that include original songs written by Zoe Lister-Jones and Kyle Forester along with Adam Pally on a few songs that are performed by Lister-Jones, Pally, and Armisen as its mixture of garage-rock and indie give the songs a sense of life and help tell the story as it’s a highlight of the film.

The film’s wonderful ensemble cast include cameo appearances and small roles from comedian Retta as Anna and Ben’s marriage therapist, Brooklyn Decker as a friend at a birthday party where she breastfeeds one of her kids, Chris D’Elia and Colin Hanks as a couple of annoying Uber passengers Anna has to deal with, Erinn Hayes and Jamie Chung as a couple of Fred’s housemates who are recovering sex addicts, Hannah Simone and Ravi Patel as friends of Anna and Ben in their respective roles in Grace and Bobby, and Susie Essman in a terrific one-scene performance as Ben’s mother Shirley who gives Ben advice about marriage and what he has to do as a husband. Fred Armisen is excellent as Dave as Anna and Ben’s neighbor who helps sex addicts as he also plays drums where he copes with Anna and Ben’s troubles as it reminds him of his parents and their divorce.

Finally, there’s the duo of Adam Pally and Zoe Lister-Jones in incredible performances in their respective roles as Ben and Anna. Pally provides that sense of energy of anger and frustration into his role as a man who hates his job as well as do whatever he can to distract himself from the source of his anger. Lister-Jones play into a woman who is emotional and is trying to make sense of her own failures in life as well as the hope to succeed. Pally and Lister-Jones together are a joy to watch in the way they argue as well as channel everything through music as they just have amazing chemistry in the way they play with each other.

Band Aid is a sensational film from Zoe Lister-Jones that features top-notch performances from Lister-Jones, Adam Pally, and Fred Armisen. It’s a film that is very charming as well as being a musical that doesn’t play by the rules thanks in parts to the original songs as it help tells the story of a couple trying to save their marriage through music. In the end, Band Aid is a phenomenal film from Zoe Lister-Jones.

© thevoid99 2018


Brittani Burnham said...

I wanted to see this after reading Jay's review of it and I'm glad to hear you also like it! I'll have to get to it soon.

Big Screen Small Words said...

I really enjoyed this as well - loved the cast, and how it came together. Great review!

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-If you have Showtime/The Movie Channel, it's readily available as I enjoyed watching that film.

@Big Screen Small Words-Thank you. I liked the fact that you had actors playing instruments and singing along without trying to say they can do this and that as it's more about using music as a form of therapy.