Lake Bell's directorial debut, In A World..., is a hilarious and uncomfortable look into how deeply sexism can plague an industry. She stars as Carol Solomon, a struggling voice-over artist, who does vocal coaching to make ends meet. Her lack of success is particularly stinging considering her father, Sam Sotto (a gross but charming Fred Melamed) is the most high profile person in this highly male dominated business.
Bell effortlessly constructs the voice over world into an exclusive boys club--filled with white dudes sweating away their problems in saunas, chatting about projects over voice-soothing whiskey cocktails and the establishes the mentor/mentee relationship her father has with up and comer Gustav Warner (Ken Marino).
When Carol accidentally stumbles into a new job voicing over a trailer for a "children's romantic comedy," one that she has inadvertently taken from Gustav--her career totally shifts. While her personal life is still a mess, living on her sister and husband's (Michaela Watkins and Rob Cordry) couch and is blithely unaware of her friend Louis' (Demetri Martin) crush on her--she begins blindly navigating success in an industry that her father reminds her "doesn't care for a female sound."
After booking multiple jobs, Carol finds out that she's up for a high-profile gig--voicing over the trailers for the female-centric blockbuster "quadrilogy" The Amazon Games--one that's going to resurrect the iconic phrase "in a world." However, she's up for that gig against the best men in the business--including Gustav, her father's protegee.
Bell doesn't shy away from guttingly looking at the ways sexism is so deeply institutionalized within both the industry----and in ourselves. Carol's relationship with her father is proof that he is a man who is so deeply embedded in the politics of the industry that he can't even see the talent his own offspring has. And she also establishes, rather honestly and uncomfortably, the experience of being the token female--which manifests itself in the rather happy but ambiguous ending.
In A World... is a smart, funny, unique look at a woman trying to pave her way. Bell's going to be one to continue to watch for a long, long time to come.
In A World... is in theaters in New York and Los Angeles today.