Lake Bell is one of those actresses you instantly recognise. You know you've seen face in something before but can’t for the life of you remember what, forcing you to look her up on IMDB before you tear your hair out in frustration.
The reason you can't remember Bell is not because she's a terrible actress or so plain looking that she fades into the background, it's simply because she's rarely, if ever, the star of the show. She's played the best friend, the sister, the rebound girl and the bit-on-the-side but In A World has finally given her a chance to step into the spotlight and after you've seen it you are not likely to forget her again.
There are few areas of the movie making industry that are yet to be dramatised. We’ve seen countless films about actors, directors and screen writers navigating the ins and outs of Hollywood but for the first time in a long while we're getting a glimpse into something we've never seen before - the cut throat world of Hollywood voice over artists.
Carol, (Bell) is a goofy 30-something with a penchant for overalls who has been living her life in the shadow of her father, voiceover king Sam Soto (Melamed). Sam has told Carol time and time again that the voiceover industry just doesn’t want a women’s voice but she is dead set on proving to both her dad and the world that a woman is more than capable of uttering those epic opening lines from which this film gets its name.
Having won Best Screenplay at the Sundance Film Festival it was hard not to come to this film without high expectations yet thankfully, In A World more than lives up to them. It’s off-beat, quirky humour feels easy and natural and has all of the tell tale signs of a writer who really understands both her characters and her audience which isn’t surprising given that Bell not only wrote the film but directed and starred in it as well.
Bell has also done a stellar job at choosing her cast which includes the comedic sensation that is Demetri Martin who was the ideal choice to play socially awkward yet adorable sound engineer Louis. Similarly, Rob Coddry plays Carol’s neglected brother in law to perfection with just enough light heartedness to save his character from becoming too pathetic.
Although In A World is an indie film, the jokes and story never verge too far left of field which could have been easily done given its very niche setting. Too often the dialogue and flow of these screwball comedies can be difficult to follow as writers attempt to make the film feel authentically kooky. Bell however has managed to craft a film that is not only genuinely quirky but that also flows with ease.
Another one of Bell's many talents is her ability to capture those horrifically awkward moments that we’ve all suffered through to an absolute tee. One scene in particular that stands out is when Carol spends the night in Louis' apartment where that being-alone-with-somebody-you-fancy-for-the-first-time awkwardness ensues at an almost painful level.
Bell is also able to perfectly navigate the film's central conflict, giving it enough time on screen to allow it to play out believably while also paying just the right amount of attention to each subplot, ensuring the audience is fully invested in each and every character's outcome.
In A World is an extremely commendable first feature length effort from Bell. Like her, it's funny, authentic and extremely fresh and will hopefully result in this talented writer, director and actor giving us another insight into some other unexplored world in the not too distant future.