I've been looking forward to this for a long time, although since it came out eight years ago, I guess I wasn't too insistent on seeing it. In any event, I've seen it now, and it is quite an accomplishment for Lake Bell, who wrote it, starred in it, and directed it. Bell was 34 when she made In a World, her first feature as a director. Since then, she has directed/written/starred in one other feature, and done a lot of TV work. She is perhaps best known for a nude cover she did for New York magazine in 2013, and while it's obvious why she was chosen for that cover, Bell clearly has a lot more going for her than just the kind of body that gets the attention of readers of Maxim. I wanted to love In a World ... we need more female actors-turned-writer/director, and In a World was a critical and a festival success. So it's hardly fair to say it's good-not-great, but that's how it felt to me. Blame my expectations ... I wanted her first film in charge to be a stunner, when it turned out to be a fine film with subtle depth.
There are positives aplenty here. Bell gathers together an excellent cast of big names, "that guys", and should-be stars: Rob Corddry, Eva Longoria, Demetri Martin, Fred Melamed, Tig Notaro, Nick Offerman, Michaela Watkins, Geena Davis, Carly Chaikin, Jason O'Mara, Cameron Diaz, Jeff Garlin, and Bell herself. She has written several solid characters, if perhaps a few too many for a 93-minute movie. Everyone has more depth than you might first expect, which helps make the characters believable. The setting is unusual enough to feel original: woman tries to break into the world of movie-trailer voice overs. Everything is fairly casual, but there is a narrative thrust that moves things forward.
None of the above is particularly mind-blowing, and maybe that's why I was disappointed when there was no cause to feel let down. In a World should appeal to most moviegoers, and not every directorial debut needs to be Citizen Kane.[Letterboxd list of Film Fatales]