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Film Review: In a World...

A film about film may seem nauseatingly meta, but Lake Bell’s "In a World…" folds a critique of the film industry’s sexism into a playful rom-com surprisingly well. "In a World…" follows the rules of the rom-com playbook but feels less formulaic as I found myself actually thinking
(which is abnormal for a rom-com!).

The film’s casting is impressive, particularly in the case of Geena Davis as Katherine Huling. Huling, a very minor character, is the executive producer of The Amazon Games, the 'quadrilogy' with a feminist twang that sparks a voiceover battle between Carol (played by Lake Bell), her father (Fred Melamed as Sam Soto) and up-and-comer Gustav Warner (Ken Marino). Huling chooses Carol’s voice for The Amazon Games’s trailer but is quick to tell Carol that she got the role because of her gender, not her talent. It is so perfectly tongue-in-cheek to cast Davis, well-known for supporting women in conventionally male roles (I’m still reeling from the cancellation of 'Commander-in-Chief" seven years ago).

Bell not only stars in the film, but also wrote the screenplay, directed and produced it. The choice to make a film like this shows a careful perceptiveness of the industry and the world around her. Her skilled acting shines as she distorts her voice into foreign accents like it is child’s play, and she laudably weaves an affair subplot into the story without it coming off as trite.

Of course, the film is not without its flaws. Its short length is reflected in compressed storylines. The one that bothered me most was Louis (Demetri Martin) finally finding enough courage to announce to Carol that he likes her—a story that develops throughout the film—and Carol responding with a quick “I like you too!” How convenient, I thought, given that there was little to suggest that Carol felt that way until that moment. It’s also highly possible that I was given these signs throughout the film and chose to ignore them due to my abnormal Demetri Martin fixation. Who knows!?

"In a World..." pulls off the rom-com while poking at Hollywood’s deeply entrenched sexism. It's pure fun to watch, and a strong film for Lake Bell's directorial debut.


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