Carol (Lake Bell) is an aspiring voiceover artist who’s grown up in the shadow of her father, Sam Soto (Fred Melamed), an industry icon. Sam belittles her career chances as a woman in the voiceover world, preferring to encourage male protégé Gustav (Ken Marino). She’s also at odds with her father for other reasons, resenting his young girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden), who seems to represent the kind of ‘baby-voiced’ femininity Carol hates.
When Jamie moves in and Carol is kicked out of Sam’s house, she moves in with her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) and brother-in-law Moe (Rob Corddry), who are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Trying to keep things together in her personal life whilst pushing ahead professionally, Carol must find a way to make her voice heard.
- Did you enjoy the film, and why or why not? How is it similar to, and different from, other comedies you have seen recently? Did anything about it surprise you?
- In A World is clearly a passion project for Lake Bell, who wrote, starred in, directed and produced the film. Which of the films we see at the cinema seem to be the result of one person’s creative vision, which are the result of many equal creative contributions, and which seem to be ‘products’ designed by studios? Does this make any difference to our viewing experience?
- What did you make of Carol, and how would you describe her personality? What drives her, and what would you say are her strengths and flaws? Could you relate to any of the personal or professional challenges she faced?
- What did you make of Carol and Dani’s relationship with their father Why does Sam seem unable or unwilling to be a good father to them? How does he develop emotionally over the course of the story?
- What did you think about the relationship between Carol and Louis (Demetri Martin)? What makes them a good match, and did you want them to get together?
‘A great voice isn’t only a blessing, it’s also a choice.’ – Sam
- To what extent is career success, in any field, simply down to natural talent? To what extent is it down to hard work, or luck, or other factors? How might someone’s beliefs about this affect their approach to success
- Why is Carol so bothered by the ‘sexy baby voice’ she hears women using, and do you agree with her that it’s a bad thing? What might lie behind the cultural trend for women speaking this way? What alternative image of women is Carol fighting for?
‘If a man is doing a car commercial, you hear a deep booming voice instructing you, “If you buy this car, you’ll be like me. This will be you. You will have my life.” And when it’s a woman doing a voiceover for a car commercial, the instruction there is “If you buy this car, you’ll get me.”’ – Lake Bell
- What picture does the film paint of sexism in the advertising industry? What differences are there in the way advertising presents men and women? Why do you think society considers men’s voices to be more ‘authoratitive’ than women’s in advertising, and what might be some of the consequences of this belief?
- How does forgiveness work in Dani and Moe’s relationship? Do you think their reconciliation was realistic, and why or why not? What has to happen for the damage in a marriage to be repaired in this way?
- Why does Katherine choose Carol for the big voiceover job? Is affirmative action a helpful way of addressing discrimination, and why or why not? What responsibility do we all have to use our talents in a way which benefits others?
‘Voiceover matters. Everyone in the world watches movie trailers. Everyone in the world sees commercials… and that is power.’ – Katherine
- What power does advertising have over us? To what extent are we aware of this power, and able to resist it? What other voices do we listen to which shape our attitudes and choices in life?
‘My father used to say to me, you’re good, kid. But as long as I’m around, you’ll never be as good as me.’ – Sam
- From where else, other than advertising, might we receive the message that we’re somehow inadequate? What impact might this sense of inadequacy have on us? What would it take to make someone feel that they were ‘enough’, whether in their job, their family, or simply as a human being?