Thing of the Day #9: Film Review: In A World…(dir. Lake Bell; 2013)
In A World… establishes right at the beginning that the world of film trailer voice-overs has not only always been a man’s world, but one particular man's world, that of Don LaFontaine, voice of over 5,000 movie trailers. Writer/director/star Lake Bell claims that, with one exception, there have been no major film trailers which feature female narration. In A World… tells the story of a woman who tries to break into that niche industry, attempting to fill the gap left by LaFontaine (who died in 2008), and vying for the chance to resurrect his famous catchphrase which gives the film its title.
The film is populated with a cast of faces familiar to anyone who’s seen Childrens Hospital or Party Down, including Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, and Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation, here sans moustache). All demonstrate an ability to go small, with Corddry in particular giving an impressively humane performance as the protagonist’s brother-in-law who’s experiencing difficulty in his marriage. In A World…'s bountiful humour never derails its characters' development, and similarly, it never overplays its dramatic moments, turning what might otherwise neatly be considered a typical underdog story into something more nuanced. It's a film filled with warm, authentic interactions, between sisters, spouses, potential daters, and between women generally; the film is a great example of the kind of subtly shifted perspectives we miss out on when there are so few women behind the camera.
In A World… is a low-stakes, comedic story of a woman making her way in a man’s industry. The main character’s struggle is never presented as particularly dire; she remains a skilled white woman from a successful Hollywood family. But the film makes a clear-headed argument for the value of female presence in ubiquitous-but-invisible corners of culture, like movie trailer voice-overs. Further, it celebrates women looking after each other, and building each other up. The film revolves around the relationship between two sisters, and though the main character initially belittles a woman with a silly voice, she later does what she can to help her take her rightful place in the traditionally male-dominated legal profession. In A World… is full of these humane interactions, but the confident first-time direction from Bell keeps the film focused on its characters as real people, and not simply as cathartic narrative vessels. With a cast this packed with comic talent, and with a director’s touch at once light and confident, In A World… is a small-scale treat, and Bell is a promising talent.