Waitress

“I’m addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone.”

The late Adrienne Shelly directs and stars in a quality drama/comedy full of authentic moments and feelings. Shelly plays a shy waitress named Dawn who gets surprisingly sweet romance with a “mad stalking elf” Ogie, played by Eddie Jemison (Ocean’s 11). Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm television series) plays another waitress named Becky.

The main plot centers on the third woman in this well cooked trio, Jenna, “the queen of kindness and goodness” and pie maker extraordinaire. Well played by Keri Russell (Mission Impossible III, Felicity television series), Jenna finds herself in a bad relationship with the ego centric Earl, played by Jeremy Sisto (Clueless, TV’s Suburgatory).

“I’m not sure I want that happening” and “I don’t get jealous” are some of his excuses for not allowing Jenna to pursue her dreams including entering a $25,000 pie contest.

Russell puts in the best performance of her career as one of the best female protagonists in recent film history. She feels trapped in her relationship and environment seeking a love where someone can “hold you without one ounce of selfishness.” Jenna achieves her dreams by helping herself and taking risky steps to make her life better.

After a new doctor named Jim Pomatter, well played by Nathan Fillion (Serenity, TV’s Castle) comes to town, Jenna rethinks her life and relationship. It’s nice that there’s no big confrontation between him and Earl, instead Jenna must address the issues herself.

Joe, well played by the late Andy Griffith, also plays a key role in Jenna’s development. “I’m dreaming a little for you…all my dreams are gone,” he tells Jenna.

Shelly uses handheld camera shots during tense moments; point-of-view shots at key plot points and fade out among transitions. Filmmakers cook up magical cinema in virtually every shot even little touches like the doctor using a crucible to crush berries.

The solid plot uses Jenna’s pie making skills as a main theme. It’s clever, but not too whimsical. “Each flavor is an opening…like a chapter in a book.” This film is full of memorable music and songs including “Baby Don’t You Cry”, co-written by Shelly and performed by Quincy Coleman. Great memories of watching this one on a flight back home from California. Highly recommended (***1/2) and rated PG-13 for language and sexual content.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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