In a World...
Film Title: In a World
Director: Lake Bell
Starring: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins
Running Time: 101 min
Does the title ring some sort of bell? Try saying it in a dark American accent over melodramatic sub-classical chords.
This very amusing, nicely original romantic comedy – the first from polymath Lake Bell – sets itself among the voiceover artists of Los Angeles. Their inspiration is the late Don LaFontaine, a surprising portion of whose copy for movie trailers began with those three words. Such detail greatly enhances a film that’s never short on charm or smart one-liners.
The director stars as Carol, a vocal coach and occasional voice artist who has never managed to break through male dominance of her chosen fields. Her father Sam (played by the huge, brown-voiced Fred Melamed) looks to be the natural successor to LaFontaine. Enormously pompous, still insecure in his professional life, Sam fully expects any decent job to come his way. So, when he hears that some woman is in line to speak the actual words “In a world . . .”, he is more than usually aggrieved. It takes some time for Sam to discover that the interloper is his own daughter.
In a World . . . does, perhaps, throw in a few too many extraneous subplots: romantic confusions involving Carol’s sister and her nervous husband begin in contrived fashion and end far too neatly. And the resort to Woody Allen’s trademark stutter punctuates too much of the dialogue.
The film’s riffs on this strange outcrop of the entertainment industry are, however, nicely constructed and attacked with great energy. One lovely aside finds Eva Longoria struggling hopelessly with a cockney accent. “Is that wot you think, you stupid slappah?” she bellows before Carol advises her to substitute an “f” for the “th”.
There is great invention, fine writing and spirited direction on display here. Most impressively, the film manages (odd Allenisms aside) to look and sound unlike the work of any other comic director. After winning the screenwriting prize at Sundance, Ms Bell looks to have several bright careers ahead of her.