Before I tell you anything about Waitress, I simply must say I adored this film.
I adored Keri Russell in it.
I adored the feeling behind it.
And I adored the writing in it.
Waitress is a small film, yet its heart is very big. It is a bittersweet film in more ways than one. Its most poignant quality lies in the fact that writer-director and co-star Adrienne Shelly is no longer among us to bask in the spotlight of success this darling film is sure to burn bright. (Shelly was murdered in New York City last fall just days before finding out the film would premiere at Sundance, where it would become a hit.)
Its plot is less shocking, yet just as moving.
When Jenna (Russell, in a star-making turn), a waitress in a cheery Southern diner, discovers that she's pregnant with her abusive, annoying, and needy husband Earl's (Jeremy Sisto) baby, she doesn't exactly jump for joy.
Suddenly hopeless, her dreams for a better life are in ruins, until a good-looking doctor (Serenity’s Nathan Fillion) arrives in town.
Jenna finds her only solace in her friends (Shelly and Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines), and in the pies she bakes and names after the tumultuous events and emotions of her daily life (i.e., "I Don't Want Earl's Baby" pie).
The pregnancy eventually changes Jenna’s life, giving her an unexpected and newfound confidence via the letters she writes to her unborn baby.
Like I said, Russell is…I would say a revelation, but I already was keenly aware of her talents; she starred on one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Felicity. So I’ll say she’s tremendous and leave it at that.
The feeling behind this film is, for lack of a better word, palpable. It is a testament to Shelly’s writing, to her talent, really, with which I wasn’t familiar, that these carefully drawn characters and this beautiful story could be so moving, so sad, and so real at the same time that they never felt phony. Waitress is a triumph.
My Rating ****
Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures.