Sometimes great talent can go unseen or ignored for years until the right set of circumstances line up or someone finally opens their eyes to the untapped potential in front of them. Sometimes this never happens and someone truly talented and quite funny decides to say screw it and write/direct themselves a role that lets them flex their muscles a little. This is the case with Lake Bell's 'In A World...', her feature-length writing and directing debut.
'In A World...' follows Carol Solomon, a voice coach who works near the Hollywood circle that her father (played by Fred Melamed) has been a part of for decades as the voice of many famous movie trailers, as she tries to break into this same business herself. Carol has to deal with the struggles of breaking into a male-dominated field with her father's protege Gustav (Ken Marino) as direct competition and ultimately her father as well. The rest of the cast includes Demetri Martin, Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry and many other comedic talents who all deliver performances I would call good at worst.
Immediately I took notice of Bell's naturalistic dialogue that comes across as both very well-written and aided by improvisation. Not improvisation in the comedic sense, just in the sense that everything that plays out and is said feels real or tangible as actual interactions people have. This is aided by Bell's ability to balance tone throughout this entire film letting comedic moments happen when it fits but not letting them overshadow or distract from the more emotionally grounded moments. The latter of these scenes gives Bell and the rest of the cast to spread out and act a little more than they might normally be allowed to.
Having been a fan of 'Children's Hospital' for quite some time, I was familiar with Bell going into this move but had seen her do little more than comedy. I missed Boston Legal entirely so I can't speak on the type of performances she gave there. Having written, directed and produced this picture herself while also spending the majority of it in front of the camera as well is more than impressive as she has nailed each aspect. Taken advantage of her own script to showcase her dramatic chops while showing another side of her comedic abilities results in a fantastic performance. Demetri Martin leaves a similar impression when the credits roll as this role is that of a much Bell's Carol character but lacks the sand to ask her out. With a grounded performance that hits all the right notes, eventual plot developments allow Bell and Martin to show off some believable chemistry later on.
'In A World...' is charming from front to back and even more so when one remembers that this is Bell's first outing in these roles. I can't decide if I am more excited to see her as an actress or a filmmaker moving forward but I see no reason why shouldn't be allowed to do both given this final product. This movie is available on Netflix right now and I can't suggest it enough to fans of low-key dramedy or anyone who is fatigued by the blockbuster blitzkrieg of late and wants to support a pretty stellar little indie outing.