Wednesday, September 4, 2013
In a World ... 
RogerEbert.com (O. Henderson) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review
In a World ... , screenplay written and directed by and starring Lake Bell, is an indie film about a 20-30 something young woman named Carol (played by Lake Bell) a voice coach, who's been trying to step out of the shadow of her talented but often overbearing and not particularly supportive father named Sam (played by Fred Malemed) presented in the film as something of a "living legend" in the "voice over" field.
How to be taken seriously by a father who loves you but likes his position (on top of his family and his field of choice/career) and who actually dates a young woman your own age? That's the somewhat exaggerated (for comic effect) but very real challenge facing the central protagonist in this film.
Signund Freud had a rather dismal view of intergenerational rivalry. One the one hand, he postulated that children are destined to "murder" their same-sex parent even as they put them up (after they've "murdered" them) on a pedestal to venerate them. On the other hand, Freud postulated that children would be (sexually) attracted to their opposite sex parent.
Freud saw these "fundamental relationships" between children and their parents expressed in the Classical story of Oedipus. Oedipus' parents, after being informed by an Oracle that Oedipus was destined to murder his father and sleep with his mother, put him up for adoption. Oedipus in turn, when as a young adult is told by anpther Oracle that he's destined to murder his father and sleep with his mother, runs away from his adopted parents only to come across his biological father (and kills him) and then his biological mother (whom he marries ...). The point of the Classical Greek story was to say that one is largely unable to escape one's Destiny, no matter how horrible it was to be. Freud understood the story symbolically, postulating that in one way or another, one ultimately "murders" (supersedes) one's same sex parent and one ultimately "marries" (someone very much like) one's opposite sex parent.
In our more androgynous times ("In a world..." / "In our world ..."), we're given the parable of this film in which Carol both looks up to, but despises, her father (her mother is long dead) while her father is actually dating someone who could be her sister (be just like her ...).
So there's a lot of potential for tension in this film ... and yet it is still light enough to be a comedy. Again, one (generally rather benign) way that Sigmund Freud suggested that "tension" is dissipated is through humor.
So as "light" as this film is (about a father and daughter who both make their livings in the rather obscure fields of "voice coaching" and "voice overs") there's A LOT TO THIS FILM below the surface that makes it very interesting.
AMONG THE THINGS that makes the film interesting is that Carol's dad's girlfriend (played by Alexandra Holden) turns out to not be a particularly bad character. Sure she's Carol's age, but it turns out that she both understands Carol's point of view and appears to be the only one who is able to express it clearly to her father. Fascinating ... and arguably redemptive.
But then Hollywood is ultimately about finding "a happy ending.." Freud may have made his mark by looking for the psychological roots of tension/conflict. But "Hollywood" knows that a good story has to end well. To leave people in despair doesn't sell tickets. So after exposing the tensions present in the modern "Father - Daughter" relationship, Hollywood seeks to find a happy resolution.
And here I would argue that Our Religion (Christianity) seeks to do the same. Jesus came to the world preaching Good News. And Jesus' Resurrection (following his awful Death) was, in fact, the Ultimate "Happy Ending." Thus we too, fundamentally believe that the tensions that exist in our society today (or any day) will Ultimately turn out well.
But in any case, this was a good and surprisingly "deep" story. Honestly, good job ;-)
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