February 6, 2014

In a World...

Lake Bell, 2013
Carol (Lake Bell) is struggling to find her place in the working world. Living in the shadow of her legendary father Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), the voice-over industry seemed to be dominated by men with little room for a twenty-something female. That is until she surprisingly books a gig for herself which motivates her to keep at it - and that isn't met with cheers by everyone around her.

Lake Bell proves that she is a triple-threat in this film in which she writes, directs and stars in. It has a lot of similarities to fellow tom-boyish female-led indie Juno, although a bit more grown-up and more plainspoken. Bell's final product is a well put-together story of an aimless female dealing with adversity. This adversity takes many forms. She is trying to endure family dysfunction, mostly caused by her self-absorbed father. She is trying (or maybe not trying but feeling expected) to find romance. Although her friend Louis (Demetri Martin) is lurking in the periphery, their moments never feel opportune and come off awkwardly. Martin, who is usually a forgettable face on screen, is an appropriate casting here as the blundering but like-able friend who wants to be more than a friend but doesn't know how to make his move. She is trying to find her own independence, so she isn't feeling like a mooch on her sister Dani's (Michaela Watkins) couch. In a World contains some rather sporadic laughter, with some of the many throw-aways falling flat. They don't all need to hit their mark because Bell gets plenty of points for her effort. And her efforts didn't go unnoticed. She received a lot of appropriate acclaim for her work here, taking home the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance among many Critics Association nominations for things like Breakthrough Film Artist or Most Promising Filmmaker. Bell succeeds in getting you behind Carol early and sticking with her. Her hardship should feel identifiable for anyone who was young and didn't know what the hell they wanted to do in life, which is who, all of us? 

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