Waitress (2007)

Reid, 8. June 2007, 23:01

Dir. Adrienne Shelly

Attention Penny and Grace: here’s a film you guys would like. The film had it’s moments, but it took a while for it to get going. Larri liked it less than I did, although she was expecting something a little different. Jill really loved it.

This is one of those films that basically falls within a Hollywood style movie, except for some subtle differences that give the film a freshness–as if they’re being made be an individual and not cookie-cut. The Full Monty and the more recent, Little Miss Sunshine are films that come to mind. There’s a quirky or slightly odd sensibility in these films, although not so odd to push it out of the mainstream. I wish more Hollywood films would have this quality.

Anyway, the story and even the characters are pretty bland and uninspiring. The humor is something not unlike something you’d see on TV. Indeed, the characters and situation is very similar to Alice and the movie, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

What saves the movie for me is Keri Russell. She was able to portray this sorrow that was quite intense, yet at the same time, manage to be radiant. There was something about her performance that made the film glow.

The other part I liked the mixing of tones in the film–from light TV-sitcom sensibility to a more scary and brutal realism. The realism was effective and this is something that I don’t think a more typical Hollywood film would have included.

Still, the film wasn’t entirely successful for me. I thought the first half dragged a bit, and, again, I thought the characters and plot were kinda dull. Also, I was a tad disatisfied with the ending. While initially Jenna (Russell) and Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Filliom) have a relationship, it later deepens into something more. I thought it was a bit unrealistic that she could easily dismiss him at the end. In short, the whole feminist fantasy was not entirely satisfying. (I’m pretty sure Penny and Grace will disagree with me.)

*******Spoiler Alert*******

But anyway, the film I would really like to write about is Waitress, written and directed by Adrienne Shelley. She also acted in the movie as “Dawn” a fellow waitress and friend of the main character Jenna (Keri Russell). I believe she also sang the song at the end of the movie while the credits scrolled. The film is dedicated to her memory, because she was killed on November 1, 2006. According to IMDb:
“Shelly’s death was first considered a suicide. Days later, a 19-year-old Ecuadorian illegal immigrant and construction worker confessed to slaying the actress, who he left hanging by a bedsheet from a shower rod in the bathroom of her Manhattan office/apartment. She was found by her husband.”

How tragic. She was obviously very talented. She also had a daughter, who played Jenna’s daughter at the end of the movie. She was such a cutie with bright yellow curly hair and an angelic smile.

I enjoyed the movie. It was told almost like a fairy tale. It is the kind of story a mother tells her daughter when her daughter demands a bedtime story about how she came to be. A story to be repeated, with sometimes a new detail added here or there, but basically the same. A story that, when that little girl grows up, she will tell her own daughter…and so on and so on, down through the generations. Eventually it becomes almost like a fable (kind of like the movie Big Fish). A story about how the love of a mother for her daughter changed the course of that mother’s life forever by freeing her from her fears and insecurities.

And Nathan Fillion was hot. I’ve liked him since I first saw him on that television show, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. But really loved him as Capt. Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly (and the subsequent movie Serendipity). Of course, he’s a big cheater in this movie, which was kind of distracting, because I wanted to like him (he plays this awkward, neurotic, yet endearing doctor), but I kept thinking, “he’s cheating!” Ugh.

Andy Griffith was also in this movie, and I liked him (and his character) a lot. In fact, the supporting cast (Jeremy Sisto as Jenna’s controlling jerk of a husband, Cheryl Hines as the smart-talking waitress/friend, and of course Adrienne Shelley) were stellar. There were some inconsistencies and incongruence regarding the plot and the actions of the characters, but I am ready to forgive them because the movie was so charming and I feel, meant to play out like a fairy tale or fable.

Plus, did I mention how hot Nathan Fillion was in this movie?

The main character makes pies. She makes pies because it is a link to her past and reminds her of times when her life was better (as a young girl baking with her mother, who obviously loved her very much) and because it is a creative outlet for a life that is slowly suffocating her spirit. It is her means of escape (some people do drugs or otherwise create alternate realities), she bakes.

Jenna names her pies after whatever circumstance she is going through at the time. I just wish the pies would have tied in better with the names…or vice versa. That would have been cool. I think one of her pies was “Baby waking me up in the middle of the night” pie and it had pecans and nutmeg in it. What does that have to do with a crying baby? There was an Earl (her husband) killing me because I’m having an affair” pie that had raspberries and blackberries crushed up…allusion to bruises? A bit of a stretch, since none of the other pies really matched their names.

But still, I enjoyed Waitress a lot. One thing I really liked about it is that she did not choose any of the men. It was Jenna and Lulu (her daughter). Although, if one chose to be very picky, one could say that she did rely on a man to “save” her…that man being Old Joe (Andy Griffith) who gives her enough money to create her own pie business. I choose not to be picky here. Perhaps it is a refrain from a feminist archetype, but not in a militant way.

Plus, have I mentioned how hot Nathan Fillion was in this movie?

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