I often complain that indie films would be so much better with tons of editing, and once again it’s true with “Band Aid,” an intensely personal movie from filmmaker Zoe Lister-Jones. Jones wrote and directed this intimate story, but oh how I wish someone had helped her shave about 20 minutes off the run time. This film is only 94 minutes but it feels like a six hour miniseries, and I guarantee you’ll be worn out by the end.
The story centers around Uber driver Anna (Lister) and her lazy husband Ben (a perfectly cast Adam Pally), a millennial couple who simply can’t stop fighting — about everything. After a particularly knock-down drag-out f-bomb fueled yelling match, they decide to turn their arguments into songs and soon form a garage band with weirdo next door sex addict neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen). The premise sounds goofy and fun, but this isn’t a feel good comedy.
The film takes a dark turn when it becomes clear that the couple’s constant bickering only scratches the surface of something far more tragic, where it then rolls into a study of monumental, unspoken grief. While this shift should feel natural and effortless, it comes across as stiff with a forced sentimentality usually reserved for the worst theatrical movies of the week. This entire movie is caustic in every way possible, even when it succeeds at mustering up some laughs.
Lister seems to be quite full of herself as a triple threat writer, actor and director, but her obvious love for her own material has blinded her across all departments. When you have such a strong personal investment in a project, it often becomes difficult to know what to put in and what to leave out — and Lister needed to leave out a lot. Because there’s so much stuffed in each scene, the film suffers and becomes a bit of a bore.
Armisen adds some genuine comic relief but his character seems so out of place that it’s like he stumbled onto the wrong set and belongs in a different movie altogether. Pally is great as always, and this role will prove to serve him well on his rise to indie darling status.
“Band Aid” is still a mildly successful movie overall and if you’re a fan of intimate, personal stories, this one is worth seeing. But be forewarned that this is more of a feel-bad exercise than an enjoyable, fun rom-com.