Saturday, April 27, 2013


You can listen to a podcast review of this film below, or subscribe to Bina007 Movie Reviews podcast directly in iTunes here.

Remember those early 80s action thrillers starring the current cast of THE EXPENDABLES? They always had trailers with some deep-voiced uber-masculine bloke who sounded a bit like the Moviefone man - the trailers spoofed so brilliantly in TROPIC THUNDER. "In a world without hope, emerged a hero..." "In a time of sorrow, emerged a leader..." "In a land beyond the sea, came a man who would rise...." Well, in actress Lake Bell's first feature film, she creates a fascinating and hilarious depiction of the tight-knit micro-industry in Hollywood, where voice-over artists compete to be the "In a world..." guy, and where a girl doesn't really have a chance at all.

Bell stars a well as Carol Soloman, the somewhat flaky daughter of the legendary voice over artist Sam Soto (Frank Melamed), who as the movie opens is given her "Girls" moment and kicked out of his house to make way for his far far younger squeeze, Jamie (Alexandra Holden). Relegated by the industry, but more hurtfully by her father, to doing voice coaching, Carol gets a lucky break when the rising star Gustav Warner (Ken Marino) gets a cold. These leads to a new relationship with production assistant Louis (Demetri Martin), and the marital crisis of her sister, with whom Carol's forced to move in.

What I love about this film is that it does what all good movies do - it creates a fully realised and fascinating world that we didn't know existed before and populates it with characters that are interesting, engaging and have stylised but real relationships. I truly believed that Carol and her sister Dani loved each other - they are so easy in each other's physical space. And I truly believed in the easy camaraderie between Louis and his colleagues at the studio. Even the classic rom-com meet-cute montage date scene seemed casual and unforced. All this speaks to the wonderfully rich art design and the intimate warm-toned photography from Seamus Tierney (LIBERAL ARTS).

In front of the camera, we have a fine cast that are perfectly attuned to Bell's intelligently funny script. The verbal comedy - the play on accents - the deadpan quick responses - it's all really laugh out loud funny. Who's going to forget Bell's Russian Obe-Wan in a hurry? Or Carol's brother-in-law deadpanning that he put his diaphragm in? The little moments of physical comedy are also superb. There's an absolutely classic moment where Carol extricates herself from her partner the morning after the night before that involves a bra that's beautifully observed. And while the characters of Sam and Jamie are undoubtedly caricatures, the actors still inhabit them in such a way as to make us really care about his final emotional breakthrough, and to applaud the fact that she has more depth than we'd thought.

And this brings me to the greatest triumph of all - that Bell manages to craft a very funny rom-com that also has a serious message about women in business and how the way we speak affects how we're perceived, and the opportunities we're given. This makes it sound ponderous and earnest and a drag, but the elegance of the writing means that while it's always there, woven into the cloth, we never feel its weight. 

IN A WORLD... has a running time of 90 minutes. It played Sundance 2013, where Lake Bell won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, and Sundance London 2013, but does not yet have a commercial release date.

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