Film Review: “In A World…”

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In A World…, 2013

dir. Lake Bell
★★★★☆

In a world where women directors are overlooked and female voices are unheard, Lake Bell rises from the shadows, creating a fantastic story of voiceover artist Carol Solomon as she tries to overcome the sexism in her industry.

Anyway. I just got this DVD a few days ago, after wanting to watch this film since it came out in the cinema — though of course it had a ridiculously limited release in the UK, so I didn’t get to go see it. I didn’t really know what to expect from it, since I’d last seen the trailer a very long time ago, and I just had the echo of Lake Bell’s voice saying “in a world” stuck in my head on loop. But I know for a fact that what I was expecting was not at all what I got.

It terms of story, it’s really interesting. It follows Carol Solomon (Lake Bell) as she wants to become a voiceover artist like her father. The film begins with news footage, almost like a documentary, about the death of Don LaFontaine, the most famous voiceover artist in the world, who actually did coin the term “in a world” with his deep voice in movie trailers. Some of the footage is real, and some is made-up, like when Carol’s father (Sam played by Fred Melamed) talks about how much he misses Don, and Gustav (Ken Marino) explains how Don was his inspiration to get in the business. And since Don now is dead, the world needs another iconic voice, and Sam keeps supporting Gustav, saying he’s the best and he’ll get the all-important gig of The Amazon Games, a quadrilogy of films which will feature the words “in a world” in their trailers for the first time since Don died. Meanwhile, Sam also puts down Carol at every turn whenever she mentions she wants to do voiceover, and kicks her out of the house, so she goes to live with her sister and brother-in-law (Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry.) Carol soon books a lot of voiceover gigs because she really is amazing (all thanks to Bell’s perfect tone and knack for doing multiple accents brilliantly) and that makes her father resentful of her. Ultimately this is a story about a woman taking control of her career and making something out of herself in an industry that is male-dominated, almost a metaphor for Bell’s own work in making this film, since breaking into the industry as a director is still hard for women.

The film is also very charming. The dialogue reminds me of the mumblecore genre, the way people actually talk like in real life, sort of rambly, awkward and strange, especially Carol and Louis (played by the adorable Demitri Martin.) And every set looks lived-in, there’s a sense that we’re watching a story that has started already and that will continue after the film ends. Although there’s a little too much camera panning for my liking, the film is actually nicely shot and the cinematography is pleasant. So overall, this is a very good-looking film.

However, what I loved most about the film was the speech by the producer of The Amazon Games (Geena Davis) at the end of the film when she explains to Carol why they chose her voice. Her speech touches the very point the film is trying to convey, that women should be part of things. It’s a memorable scene, in a toilet of all places, and it really sums up the entire film, I think.

With this charming and thought-provoking film, Lake Bell made a fantastic feature film directorial debut, and I hope to see her making more in the future. Go check out In A World…, it’s really worth it!

review by Mariana Duarte

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