Director: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry
Running Time: 93 minutes
Regardless of what you may think of HBO’s Girls or Lena Dunham, it’s wonderful to see how mainstream television and cinema is becoming more and more accepting of female directors and writers. It’s a long time coming. What’s even more interesting is how the stories these women tell is something that hasn’t been seen before, in any real way at least. The stories are sincere, honest and are about empowering women. Although the premise for In A World is about voice-acting, it’s really a film about female empowerment.
Lake Bell plays Stacey Solomon, a struggling voice-actor and voice-coach who finds herself pulled into the world of voice-overs for trailers. It’s big business and one that her father (Fred Melamed) has dominated for quite a while. However, he’s reluctant to bring his daughter into the fold as he feels it’s above her, instead championing up-and-comer Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). However, when a new female-led film quadrilogy, ala The Hunger Games, is announced and intends to cast a voice-over for its new trailer, the competition is opened up to all possible contenders. Gustav Warner, Stacey Solomon and her father all compete for the job. In the midst of this, however, is Stacey’s personal life which is complicated by a casual relationship with Gustav Warner and a more serious one with sound engineer Demetri Martin.
Plot-wise, In A World is reasonably straightforward and there’s nothing out of the ordinary. It’s a story about women being marginalised, as they have, for many years based on their gender and the struggle against. Its strength comes from the whip-smart dialogue and clever scripting from Lake Bell. It’s truly refreshing to see a smart, young woman who isn’t relying on shock factor to get attention. Instead, she’s using her smarts as a writer and director. The performances, across the board, are all pitch-perfect and fit with the story itself. Demetri Martin is perfect as the affable sound engineer in Lake Bell’s corner throughout. Fred Melamed plays the furtive misogynist whereas Ken Marino plays the out-and-out one. There’s also a somewhat redundant subplot involving Michaela Watkins and Rob Corddry’s marital issues; it’s not boring or anything, rather it’s tacked on as an after-thought.
Overall, In A World is a marvellously entertaining dramedy that deserves to be viewed by everyone. However, given its lack of recognisable, name-stars (there are some, they’re mainly cameos) in any real, meaningful roles, there’s a decent chance it’ll be overlooked. Seek it out as it’s worth watching.