In a World…
Director: Lake Bell
Writer: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake Bell, Fred Melamed, Michaela Watkins, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Alexandra Holden, Talulah Riley, Jason O’Mara, Ken Marino, Eva Longoria, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz
Part of: Framing Reality
Carol (Lake Bell), daughter of the famous trailer narrator Sam (Fred Melamed), has been dreaming of narrating trailers herself. But women just don’t do that – all movie trailers are narrated by men. So she struggles along with dialect coaching. Until one day she by chance gets to substitute for Gustav (Ken Marino), new star of the trailer voice over world. Despite the hostility from a lot of men around her, that was just the opening she needed to carve out a space for herself and female voices.
In a World… was funny, sweet, smart and feminist. I really enjoyed it from start to finish.
It is rare to get a film that is so open with its feminist agenda and still remains light-hearted and fun. (Which is not to say that feminism is humorless but that people generally think that these two things are mutually exclusive – when they’re not – and therefore those are not the things that get made.) But Lake Bell pulls it off, seemingly without any effort. Despite the fact that she directed, wrote and starred in the film.
The lightheartedness doesn’t mean that the film doesn’t pack a (feminist) punch either. The industry’s casual sexism is laid bare – from the “it’s just not done” attitude to the fact that most of the business agreements happen in all male saunas. While there are certain animosities between a few female characters, in the end they all work together, showing that you don’t have to like all women (which is about as likely to happen as liking all men) to cooperate and support each other.
Most notably, though, I loved Geena Davis’ cameo where she tells Carol that she wasn’t the best narrator for the trailer but that she was the best choice anyway because a female narrator had to be used at some point to make people, especially girls, see and hear that female narrators were possible. Honestly it was just so refreshing to not hear individually meritocratic rhetoric that never accurately portrays what happens (because rarely is the most competent person chosen for any job, or the person who worked the hardest or the person who deserves it most – but it’s usually the person who seems nicest – e.g. most like me – or the person that is a friend of somebody important), at the same time to hear that pushing feminism forward has its own merit, to not hear defenses that there is no (feminist) agenda – as if that was the worst possible thing anybody could ever have – but the acknowledgment that, of course there was an agenda and there damn well better be one. Because not having an agenda (or pretending not to have one) only helps stabilizing the status quo. [I feel like this paragraph could probably be its own rather long article but I hope that I make myself clear enough in this short space.]
The film’s achievements are not purely feminist though. As I said, it’s funny. It has great characters who I wanted to know better and who I wanted to succeed. And It was just plain entertaining.