Monday, June 4, 2007

Waitress—a critical film review

Gadabout recently viewed “Waitress,” a somewhat independent film by the late Adrienne Shelly. Shelly, who was tragically murdered in her Manhattan apartment in 2006, brings to the screen a southern romantic drama about a confused, lonely and strikingly beautiful waitress and culinary pie baking genius, Jenna, played by Keri Russell. Jenna, stuck in a dead end marriage with Earl, a self possessed, unstable man-boy who is incapable and unwilling to engage in an adult and meaningful relationship. Earl is an abusive thug, and Jenna dreams of an escape from her uncalculated and empty marriage through day dreams and visions of future pie projects as related to her immediate life’s situation. Pies are given names like “my horrible day being married to Earl pie.” Complicating matters for Jenna is her unplanned and untimely pregnancy with Earl’s child—a pregnancy that results “from a night of drinking.” Let all teenagers be aware of this overt connection to alcohol, choosing a mate at an early age, unhappiness, depression and dead end avenues in life.

Jenna is a master of pies, and spends her few happy hours of life working as a waitress with two fellow women who also live lives of desperation, but between the three of them they enjoy a world of happiness and understanding. All three are beautiful, caring and supportive—enough so to make life bearable.

Opposite to Earl’s protagonist role are two central characters that offer hope and wisdom. DR. Pomatter, the somewhat shy gynecologist new to the small town immediately falls in love with Jenna and a dangerous affair ensues. DR. Pomatter, who is always refereed to as such, represents hope and a meaningful future for Jenna. The crusty and aging owner of the diner, played by Andy Griffith, takes a liking to Jenna for her beauty, insight and compatibility for a younger Andy. Both characters love Jenna, but compete for her spirit at disparate, yet equal degrees of eagerness.

Waitress is a story of friendship, life’s decisions and pleasant outcomes. Earl’s efforts to control Jenna tire throughout the film, despite Jenna’s lake of eagerness to actively take any positive steps of accountability to control of her unguided and miserable marriage. True friendships that blossom across the entire crew at the diner offer pleasant moments and that brighter days are always possible, even in the face of poverty, abuse and self doubt. The positive aspects of good judgment and self control are displayed by Jenna’s decisions concerning her adulterous relationship, and her new found courage when confronting Earl.

The audience will enjoy Shelly’s film as both a comedy and a drama. Brief periods of uncertainty, abuse and despair are always short lived and are expertly balanced with scenes of happiness, personal growth and friendship. Take time out of your daily grind and hunt down Waitress. You’ll become a better person for doing so.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I will def see this film. great review!