In a World review

In a World written, directed by, and starring Lake Bell (No Strings Attached) tells the story of Carol, a voice coach struggling to succeed in the world of film voice-overs and win the approval of her chauvinistic father (Fred Melamed, A Serious Man). 

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Following the death of voice-over legend Don LaFontaine, her father, up and coming star Gustav (Ken Marino , Role Models), and Carol vie for the job of voicing an up-coming film quadrilogy. Meanwhile, subplots involving her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins, Wanderlust) and her partner (Rob Corddry, What Happens in Vegas), Carol and Gustav and her work colleague Louis (comedian Demetri Martin) play out.

With an original premise and a script which won an award at Sundance I was hoping to be unexpectedly surprised by this film. Unfortunately it’s difficult to see why the writing garnered an award. Lake is better known for her television work and it plays just like that. It’ll certainly win no awards for its cinematography; not something you want on the large screen. She plays the awkward card for the large part of the movie, which raises a few minor chuckles, but isn’t really laugh-out-loud funny. It is more successful in the more dramatic scenes.

Narrative wise it really plods in places and it’s all a tad predictable. All the cast are competent, but not particularly gripping. The unfolding relationship between Carol and Louis is endearing. It is only in the final few minutes that it delivers its hard-nosed message, and it takes a real Hollywood star to do this (Geena Davis). The film also features other cameos from Cameron Diaz and Eva Longoria.

The ending is several reality checks, particularly as, following Huling’s message, the sentiment of her father’s ultimate gesture is undermined by the fact that not only was he told to do it, but by someone younger than his own daughter. Ultimately he can only be pitied. It doesn’t so much pack a punch as gently slap you around the face, or is that sexist?

Neil Milton

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