Sundance: Lake Bell explores body work in 'Worst Enemy'
What's surprising (and ample grist for the Ministry mill) is the deeper exploration of the female form by Bell -- herself a woman still very subject to Hollywood's impossible body guidelines.
In Nancy Meyers' "It's Complicated," opposite Meryl Streep, Bell was a perfect foil as the midriff-baring seductress in oversized sunglasses and skimpy separates who has nabbed Alec Baldwin. In her directorial debut "Worst Enemy," she shows a woman judging and punishing herself in the face of such images.
The inspiration came from her own struggles and those of her friends.
"There are these trivial things that they render mammoth in their lives, things that are totally fixable but they choose to complain about it or feel bad about it. It's the idea of putting a Band-Aid on a problem," she said.
Her protagonist, a sidewalk artist named Wooly, devours dairy despite lactose intolerance and neuroses about her weight. It equals heavy Tums chewing and incessant approval-seeking regarding her appearance.
"If there's something that's holding you back as a happy person," Bell tells us, "you have to challenge yourself to look at what the cause of that is. Don't let yourself off the hook."
She attributes the problem to a deeper laziness and a world of quick fixes (Want Gwyneth Paltrow's body? It could be 21 days away!) that doesn't demand any real work.
"I have a lower-back problem, and I am such a bad worker-outer," she said. "All I have to do is go to the ... therapeutic Pilates. Of course, I don't."
We don't necessarily believe that Bell doesn't work out, but we appreciate her message.
Does the quick-fix theory ring a bell with you? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.
-- Matt Donnelly
Photo: Lake Bell at the 2011 HBO Golden Globes after-party in Beverly Hills on Jan. 16, 2011. Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty Images