If Zoe Lister-Jones wrote, produced and directed her new film, Band Aid, to finally give herself a standout role, she succeeded. As the uptight, grieving-in-all-the-wrong-ways Anna, she delivers many laugh lines, followed by moments of compelling vulnerability. And unlike many female characters in indies, Anna is every bit the equal of her male co-star, played by Adam Pally, who's tender but believably caustic as Anna's lazy designer husband, Ben. The story follows this couple as they act out their frustrations — sniping about the dishes, the bills, the incessant drip in the sink — until they find they can shove all those unwieldy emotions into the songs they write, with choruses such as I love you, but I don't wanna fuck you.
Ditched by their therapist, adrift in a sea of their friends' babies, the childless thirty-somethings smoke joint after joint to deal with a miscarriage — they can't bring themselves to say the word. Anna has a "failed book deal" behind her and drives for Uber to pay the bills, while Ben eats pizza in his underwear and stares at a blank notebook. Despite their arguments, these two are funnier than they are annoying.
When creepy sex-addict neighbor Dave (Fred Armisen) joins their band as a drummer, the film's tone misses a beat. I'm sure it's probably difficult to look at the dailies and see Armisen doing his 10-yard stares and weirdo schtick and not want to include those scenes. But Armisen's comedy plays against the realism, competing for attention. I like this couple. And their songs aren't bad! Not so the gender-binary Mars-Venus mumbo jumbo that dominates the resolution. Still, these are small quibbles with an otherwise charming and honest marriage story.