Waitress

Waitress

****

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Jenna (Keri Russell on such great form it makes you wonder why she doesn't get lead roles more often) is a country waitress, working in the sort of Fried Green Tomatoes-style diner that you thought had dropped out of existence in the late Fifties. She's renowned for her pie baking and thinks up recipes dependent on her mood. The folks at the diner can't get enough of her cooking and her colleagues Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly - who also wrote and directed the movie) think she is "the queen of kindness and goodness".

If this all sounds like the lid fell off the sugar jar while Shelly was cooking up the story, you can relax because beneath the sweet veneer, there's an altogether more complex set of flavours at work.

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Jenna may look squeaky clean, but on finding out she is pregnant to her jealous and overbearing hubbie Earl (Jeremy Sisto, injecting just the right level of immaturity and menace), it becomes clear she has a less sugary side as she thinks up a string of pies to suit her mood - I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie and Baby Screaming Its Head Of In The Middle Of The Night And Ruining My Life Pie, to name but two.

This coupled with an affair with her obstetrician Dr Pommatter (Nathan Fillion) - the recipe? I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie - makes for never a dull moment, despite the small-town setting. Adding the icing on the cake is a sparky friendship with the curmudgeonly diner owner Old Joe (Andy Griffith) - "I love living vicariously through the pain and suffering of others," he confides.

One-liners like that come thick and fast in this bittersweet, whistle-stop romp, with Shelly almost always managing to undercut her syrup with something more stringent.

Russell is excellent as the confused Jenna, trapped in a marriage and with a "parasite" in her belly. She manages to keep her character sympathetic, while still giving her a little bit of edge. If things do get a bit icky sticky at the end, so what? This is intended to be a modern-day fairytale, not a gritty slice of urban realism. Sometimes you want to come out of the cinema with a warm glow - and this will certainly do the trick. That Shelly - who was murdered shortly after shooting Waitress - did not live to see the public reaction to what is, undoubtedly, a real crowd pleaser is, however, deeply tragic.

Reviewed on: 15 Jul 2007
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Waitress packshot
Offbeat comedy about the trials and tribulations of an unhappily married waitress in small-town America.
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Director: Adrienne Shelly

Writer: Adrienne Shelly

Starring: Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Eddie Jemison, Lew Temple, Darby Stanchfield, Heidi Sulzman, Lauri Johnson

Year: 2007

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: USA

Festivals:

CFF 2007
Sundance 2007

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