How much thought do we devote to “voice -over’s”; faceless individuals, using vocal skills to enhance, terrify, imbue a film with success or failure? Miniscule, moments. Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to snippets of iconic radio shows; the mind paints, sculpts the portrait behind the voice; those voices determined the longevity of a program: archival programs: “Jack Benny” and the idiosyncratic , crackly cadence of “Rochester”; Orson Wells as “The Shadow”,evil “lurked” and resonated with his every sentence, or “Inner Sanctum” a myriad of creepy voices, raising goose -flesh, even today.
“In a World” written, directed and starring talented Lake Bell, gives life, substance and legitimacy to “those” hidden, but perpetually heard. “Carol Solomon” (Bell) struggling as a voice coach, yearning for equality; jockeying for a position in a male-dominated profession; her father “Sam” (mellifluous, Fred Melamed), in a category of his own, the quintessential proponent and proprietor of his reputation; his treatment of Carol is pejorative, demeaning and self-aggrandizing . The perils of “Carol” as she valiantly treks through the vicissitudes of her chosen field are at times lugubrious, mildly humorous, ultimately too ambitious.
Powerfully performed minor roles amplify, and at times detract from the pivotal focus of “In a World”. Demetri Martin as “Lewis” is endearing as a nerdy technician, sappily attracted to Carol; Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins as “Gary” and “Dani”, brother-in-law and sister of Carol give meaningful depictions of a couple whose marriage is in flux; Alexandra Holden as “Jamie” flighty, ditzy, girlfriend of “Sam” with impeccable timing, lends levity to her every scene. Ken Marino: handsome, narcissistic “Gustav”, could have been eliminated.
Lake Bell, ingeniously sheds light on film’s unheralded voices; but “In a World” would have fared better if “Carol Solomon’s” potency had not been diluted on an altar of sidebars.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!