Band Aid

BAND AID, dram­edy, not rated, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 2.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

Anna (Zoe Lis­ter-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally), a child­less thirty-some­thing mar­ried cou­ple, fight too much. They ar­gue over dishes, sex, and who is more in­sen­si­tive to the other; they will even throw down over whose method of ar­gu­ment is more an­noy­ing. Anna, a failed writer, and Ben, a dis­il­lu­sioned artist, work what they call rent-jobs that make them hate them­selves, and they are at a point in their re­la­tion­ship where some­thing must im­prove or at least change. One af­ter­noon at a friend’s child’s birth­day party, stoned and bick­er­ing, they pick up toy in­stru­ments and play an im­promptu im­pro­vised song about a re­cent dis­agree­ment. Sud­denly, an old spark re­turns. They de­cide to start a band in an ef­fort to sing in­stead of yell about the prob­lems that are mak­ing them mis­er­able.

Band Aid, writ­ten and di­rected by Lis­ter-Jones, is a valiant at­tempt at cap­tur­ing the pathos of cre­ative types who never achieved com­mer­cial suc­cess — and there­fore any mea­sure of fi­nan­cial se­cu­rity — and who do not want to talk about the fu­ture. Anna and Ben are watch­ing their friends start fam­i­lies and fall into ca­reers seem­ingly with­out ef­fort, though many of them are pretty bored with their ro­man­tic part­ners — which is, oddly, the movie’s as­sumed state of happy mar­riages. Lis­ter-Jones and Pally have ex­cel­lent chem­istry. The scenes in which they fight about in­con­se­quen­tial things, have sex, or play mu­sic feel ef­fort­less, and they are con­vinc­ing as a cou­ple that have been to­gether so long that they fight like brother and sis­ter, mak­ing up quickly with­out need for apol­ogy.

There are sev­eral laugh-out-loud mo­ments, and the mu­sic Anna and Ben make is in­ter­est­ing and en­ter­tain­ing, but Band Aid veers wildly be­tween ab­sur­dist com­edy and pre­dictable high-con­cept mar­riage drama, with pac­ing that could have come out of a Screen­writ­ing 101 text­book. Its stabs at ir­rev­er­ence — in the char­ac­ter of a quirky drum­mer neigh­bor played by Fred Ar­misen — are si­mul­ta­ne­ously wel­come and out of place; it is as if Ar­misen lives in a Satur­day Night Live sketch in which Ben and Anna pe­ri­od­i­cally take part. The movie’s more se­ri­ous turns are an­chored by Lis­ter-Jones, who has the range to play across a de­mand­ing emo­tional spec­trum, while Pally fal­ters once the ma­te­rial ex­tends past com­edy. Band Aid sets im­pres­sive goals for it­self, but de­spite the tal­ent and charm of its stars, the dis­parate pieces do not quite come to­gether into a psy­cho­log­i­cally af­fect­ing whole. — Jen­nifer Levin

Mod­ern-day Bick­er­sons: Zoe Lis­ter-Jones and Adam Pally

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