In A World... - DVD Review

'Bell opens up for herself a world of idiosyncrasies whilst still recognisably spearing a macho-led Universe.'

Lake Bell's terrific send up of Hollywood gender norms manages to do just that from inside the establishment. By finding a microcosm of the industry she works in and wants to critique - in this case, voiceover artists - Bell opens up for herself a world of idiosyncrasies whilst still recognisably spearing a macho-led Universe. In A World... works as social statement, industry harangue and occasionally touching comedy.

Producing, directing, writing and starring, it is fair to say that this is Bell's project and, especially for a d├ębut feature, it is fair to say that she has clearly convinced a plethora of stars that her talents are worth backing with their presence. Notable turns from recognisable comedic faces (Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman) supplement the well-cast character support (Fred Melamed, Ken Marino) and the handful of hilarious (Eva Longoria) and dour (Geena Davis) cameos. It's a mash that works well: the main players give In A World... the attractive and subversive Indie feel it needs whilst the recognisable faces make you believe you're in Hollywood.

In her multiple rolls, Bell is most successful in front of the camera and with pen in hand. The rapid fire dialogue, most evident when Carol (Bell) is talking to sister Dani (Michaela Watkins), does not need the complicated framing and action Bell pairs it with. Characters dart about whilst delivering funny and inventive verbal gymnastics and whilst it doesn't always distract, the writer's skill is enough without the extra burden.

Without the kinecticism though, perhaps Bell loses some of the emphasis on the film's finer, slower, moments. A successful spearing of a squeaky-voiced Hollywood-wannabe is Carol's best, if cruelest, moment. More significantly, as Dani's turbulent relationship with Moe (Corddry, not playing for laughs and brilliant) falters, Bell finds touching seconds in the sister's support and in Dani's dawning realisation. Gustav (Marino) is a loud character but also the film's best, precisely because Bell doesn't clutter his narrative or his scenes with anything more complicated than rampantly hilarious preening machismo: trunks and open dressing gowns at the poolside. You rather suspect that there is more to be found in In A World...'s faster moments, during second and third watches.

The real success here, in amongst several things that Bell does very well, is the fact that she has created a film which realistically and successfully critiques the industry that it is located in, whilst never pandering to it or giving it an easy ride. This has the teeth to give Hollywood the feminist kicking it deserves and it does so in such a good way that, like Melamed's character, the industry has no other real option than to shrug its shoulders and admit what a dick it has at times proved itself to be.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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