Funny and emotionally interesting, In A World . . . is a fine directorial debut for Writer/Director/star Lake Bell.
Bell has her strong cast of comedic actors, including Nick Offerman (Heners), Demitri Martin (Louis) and Rob Corddry (Moe), play to their strengths. Martin, for instance, gets to be unassuming and bashful but also energetic.
It is no surprise, then, that In A World . . . proves as humorous as it does. It involves funny people, and lets them be . . . well . . . funny.
In many ways, comedy carries In A World . . . but it still does not make the film resonate.We remember this picture, because it is emotional.
Thanks in no small part to excellent performances from Michaela Watkins (Dani) and Bell herself (Carol).
The actors are helped by the director’s screenplay, which features witty dialogue and well-developed central characters.
Carol, Dani and Moe are all complex and interesting. Because we understand them, we can empathize with them.
The same is true of Sam (Fred Melamed), the film’s primary antagonist, whom we mightn’t like, but whom we still comprehend.
Ditto that for the minor characters, even Jamie (Alexandra Holden).
In other word’s, Bell’s screenplay is In A World’s greatest strength, all the more so because it pays attention to several interesting themes: lingering sexism preventing women from fairly competing in certain industries; feminism; separating from parental influence, both positive and negative; the difficulty of forgiveness; etc.
Bell’s direction is almost as good as her writing. She chooses interesting camera angles and image frames, most especially when Moe plays Dani’s recording of an Irishman.
Moreover, Bell intercuts her primary story and familial subplots so well that they feel more connected than they actually are.
Yet, the subplot proves to be In A World’s biggest flaw, not least because its conflict resolves quite quickly and then all but disappears. After Moe and Dani reconcile, what happens?
An even smaller issue: Melamed’s performance. He is fine throughout most of the movie, but near the picture’s resolution he breaks down in a fit of competitive sadness. In that singular scene, his emotion is neither funny nor moving.
But In A World’s flaws are minor. It isn’t ever exceptional, per se, but it is always very good.