Waitress

"Very Good"

Waitress Review


Keri Russell had a certain low-key, empathetic quality as the sensitive coed on the WB series Felicity, but nothing about that whispery, earnest role indicated she could carry a movie herself, especially as a different character altogether. In Waitress she plays Jenna, an unhappily married young woman who channels her frustrations into the creation of fantastic pies, and taps a reservoir of star quality; it takes considerable charisma for an actress to likably cuss out her unborn child (she doesn't fantasize about a son or a daughter; she writes the child letters that start with "dear baby").

The film, written and directed by the late Adrienne Shelly, opens with Jenna discovering this pregnancy, and despairing over the fact that it ties her to her surly, controlling husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). She dreams of escape plans, squirreling away tip money from her titular job and soliciting advice from her two friends and co-workers, while peevishly and secretly attending doctor's appointments with Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion). In the back of her mind, Jenna seems to know that keeping secrets and extra cash may not be enough; her escape is attempted through a series of half-measures.

It's difficult to discuss the many charms of Waitress -- its humor, its sweetness, its endearing performances -- without also mentioning its awful backstory; Shelly was murdered in her apartment last fall, before this film, her last, premiered at Sundance. We lost not just a smart filmmaker but a wonderful character actress; she appears here as goofy little Dawn, maybe the least confident of the waitressing trio, getting laughs from her earnest, downtrodden worrying about men.

I haven't seen her other films, but here, at least, Shelly doesn't condescend to her creations. If anything, she makes Jenna so self-aware, so in touch with everything she hates about her husband and her life, that it's hard to picture her ever falling for a meathead like Earl, even in happier days (especially without pregnancy entering the picture until just now). Shelly's intelligence shines through many of the characters, who sometimes sound just a tiny bit savvier and New Yorkier than they should -- except for Earl, who Jeremy Sisto embodies perfectly as a toxic, inseparable mix of neediness and abuse.

Jenna's most accessible alternative to this frightening reality may be Dr. Pomatter. The kindly, stammering doctor may seem like a fantasy counterpart to Earl, but even Pomatter's long-term viability is questionable for a number of logical reasons; the romance in this film is adorable but never easy. Nathan Fillion is also a refugee from network television, so watching him with Russell is doubly heartening -- look at those sweet TV people finding solace in each other, and from audiences, too! It's another of the film's small wonders that for all of its cuteness, compact size, and small-screen vets (Andy Griffith is in it, for God's sake, as a crusty old coot named Old Joe, no less), it never feels like a sitcom pilot.

No, Waitress knows exactly where it's going, and it's not syndication. The ending has an almost impossibly fairy-tale sheen to it, but sometimes life interferes with our cynicism: in the wake of Shelly's tragic death, it's difficult to begrudge her characters their happiness. In fact, the happiness Shelly gives us -- intense, a tad unbelievable, definitely hard-won -- feels like a lovely, bittersweet parting gift.

Mmmm, cherry pie.



Waitress

Facts and Figures

Run time: 108 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th May 2007

Box Office USA: $18.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $22.2M

Budget: $2M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Production compaines: Night and Day Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 151 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Michael Roiff

Starring: as Jenna, as Dr. Pomatter, as Old Joe, as Becky, as Ogie, as Earl, as Dawn, Lew Temple as Cal, as Francine Pomatter, Cindy Drummond as Hospital Nurse, Lauri Johnson as Nurse Norma, Nathan Dean as Minister, Heidi Sulzman as Exhausted Mother, Sarah Hunley as Dr. Lily Mueller, Caroline Fogarty as Doctor's Assistant, as Pregnant Woman #1, Jennifer Walsh as Pregnant Woman, Mackenzie King as Flower Girl, Hunter A. King as Obnoxious Toddler, Donna Leslie as Char

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.