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Waitress (2007)

DVD Cover (Fox Searchlight)
Director:
Adrienne Shelly Adrienne Shelly
Starring:
Keri Russell Keri Russell
Nathan Fillion Nathan Fillion
Cheryl Hines Cheryl Hines
Jeremy Sisto Jeremy Sisto
Andy Griffith Andy Griffith

7.0 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy Drama, Romantic Comedy, Slice Of Life
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: June 01, 2007
For years, Adrienne Shelly struggled for recognition in the industry. She first burst onto the scene thanks to her affiliation with director Hal Hartley and soon began writing and directing and acting and doing just about everything else she could to finally get her big break. Her big break would finally come in 2006 with her film "Waitress", a festival hit that was immediately picked up by Fox Searchlight and looked poised to be the film that catapulted the talented writer/director into somewhat of an overnight sensation. All of that was cut short, however, when Shelly was found dead in her New York apartment. It was first thought to be suicide, but then an immigrant construction worker confessed to her murder, leaving her hanging from a bedsheet on the shower rod in the bathroom. She failed to see how successful her film, "Waitress", would become. Already being called the "Little Miss Sunshine" of 2007, "Waitress" is bittersweet because every single frame is dripping with Adrienne Shelly's passion. Her life was tragically taken away before she had a chance to let her true colors shine, but at least she left us all with one hell of a swan song.

The film follows the adventures of Jenna (Keri Russell), who just might be the best pie girl in the entire world. She can turn anything into a pie - and I do mean anything. She works at Joe's Pie Diner, a small restaurant in a small town where not a lot happens. Every day, she invents a brand new pie for her customers. At home, she is controlled - body and soul - by her all too needy husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto), who sometimes acts violently, but seldomly so. Early on, we learn that Jenna is pregnant. Everyone seems to be happy about this - except Jenna. She doesn't want a child and goes to great lengths to make that known. But, she won't get rid of it and decides to carry through with the pregnancy. She eventually starts having an odd affair with Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), who is overseeing her pregnancy. Jenna also has dreams of leaving her husband, skipping town and running away to win a pie competition. She is occasionally given advice from her two best friends, Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly), as well as Old Joe (Andy Griffith), the owner of the diner who comes in daily for some of Jenna's delicious pieces.

This film is all about escape. The character of Jenna just wants out of her life and doesn't want to bring a baby into a life that she herself hates. On the surface, her motivations seem rather selfish, but if you think about it - they really do come from a good place. She constantly seems shocked when people refer to her as beautiful, when she is probably one of the most attractive women in the town. She just doesn't notice. The only pleasure she gets is from baking her pies. Through the film, she compares various moments in her life, or potential moments, to new pies she might be baking the next day. As Jenna, Keri Russell absolutely dazzles. This is definitely her big break and the role that should thrust her into leading actress territory almost immediately. She takes this character and turns her into someone wholly likable, even when she is saying and doing things that would make most of us grimace. I loved the way she seemed so miserable most of the time, but then could turn on a dime at the slightest thing. Watch the shift in character when she starts having the affair. Russell plays those subtle shifts remarkably well for someone light on experience.

In tone, the film is very quirky. Writer/director Adrienne Shelly really must have loved this idea and these characters because she gives them so much. You can tell when a filmmaker is really having fun with their film and this is definitely one of those cases. In supporting roles, Cheryl Hines and Adrienne Shelly are both hilarious as Jenna's best friends and fellow waitresses. Nathan Fillion is second only to Keri Russell and once again proves how underused he is. He is comedic gold in just about everything he does. Jeremy Sisto is as hateful and pathetic as he needs to be and turns in one of his finest performances to date. Eddie Jemison has some rather humorous poetry readings as Dawn's male counterpart, Ogie. But, who doesn't love Andy Griffith most of all? He just has such a simple way of delivering dialogue, and though he looks half dead for most of the film, he really does make the most out of his character and charm the pants off of everyone in the audience. This film was awkwardly cast on the surface, but everyone truly blends together very well.

It's a shame we're not going to get to see anything else from such a talented writer and director. What a shame that she couldn't be around to see her film do so well. It's already cracked the top ten on the box office charts and looks poised to really do well, just like "Little Miss Sunshine", and I would not be surprised to see a Best Actress nod go to Keri Russell come awards season. Most people are probably thinking that "Waitress" is a romantic comedy from the trailers, but it is so much more. Using pie descriptives - it's a very funny crust with a sweet and filling center. It makes you warm inside. Sure, some of what happens is predictable, but what isn't these days? Sure, it might get a little too sweet at some points, but what's wrong with sweet? These days, there are far too many films going out of their way to be as nasty and as ugly as possible. It's nice to finally see a film again that just wants to make you laugh and smile honestly. "Waitress" is a delightful film and one that is sure to please all kinds of audiences. Credit Adrienne Shelly for all of that.

8/10.
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Tristan #1: Tristan - added 06/02/2007, 12:23 AM
Keri Russell is still alive?
bluemeanie #2: bluemeanie - added 06/02/2007, 03:40 PM
Not only alive, but now a very sought after actress.
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