Review: Lake Bell’s “In A World”

Directed and written by Lake Bell, “In A World” is a phenomenal film about the struggles of finding a voice in the industry.

In the film, Carol (Bell) is the daughter of a talented movie trailer voice-over artist, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed). For Carol, freelance vocal coaching isn’t cutting it, so she attempts to find bigger jobs. On her journey to becoming a voice-over artist, she encounters family dysfunction, pride and sexism.

In a conversation I had with Bell about the film, she said that realized Melamed, who had been a voice-over artist for 20 years, was the perfect match to play Sam because of his beautiful voice.

“I saw him in ‘A Serious Man,’ and I had always remembered him as an astonishing character and actor,” Bell said. “He can play such a despicable nuance whilst also being hilarious and also quasi-likable.”

The cast for the film was mostly played by Bell’s friends, including Demetri Martin, Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro and Alexandra Holden.

“I’m really good friends with all of my castmates,” Bell said. “I wrote it, as such, for them, like Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins.”

In one prominent scene from the film, Carol walks around with a tape recorder to collect dialect and accent samples for her archives.

“In drama school, it was a bit of an exercise in figuring out in hearing the musicality of an accent in its own environment,” Bell said. “The problem is when you ask someone, they become really conscious, and they don’t speak the way they normally do versus what accents sound like in their lazy existence as they walk through the world. We were challenged to go out into the field and get accents.”

The film focuses on how women don’t land voice-over jobs easily. Only one to two movie trailer voice overs are done by women.

Some women have developed a “babyish” vocal style, but Bell helps those women to filter their voice.

“What annoyed me was that it felt so put on. I’m very vocally self-aware, hence very vocally aware of other people,” Bell said. “I studied voice for a while, so it becomes hypersensitive. I felt like it was, as a woman, evoking this feeling that women are less.

“Let them live their lives the way they want to live their lives, if that’s the way they want to talk. You have the opportunity to make a point about something and express your beliefs instead of being judged that you’re dumb.”

Bell said her vocal role models include Lauren Bacall, Faye Dunaway, Anne Bancroft and Charlotte Rampling.

The film is filled with comedy, drama and relatable characters. Remarkably, it was filmed in only about 20 days.

“The movie isn’t filled with broad comedy, it’s subtle,” Bell said. “Here’s this person (Carol) who’s fiercely attacking a dream. She’s going to use her vocal super powers to better the community and save the day.”

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