Directed by: Adrienne Shelly
Premise: Jenna (Keri Russell), a waitress working at a small town diner specializing in pies, contemplates leaving her abusive husband when she becomes pregnant. She meets a new local doctor (Nathan Fillion) and begins having an affair with him.
What Works: Waitress is a really terrific film with solid performances and characters who have a lot of reality to them. Like Tender Mercies, the film portrays people living in rural lower society with compassion, never treating them condescendingly like Fargo. Keri Russell is terrific as Jenna, a woman whose life has simply gotten out of her control and she wrestles with how to reclaim her own happiness while also satisfying her conscience. Some of the best moments in the film are between Jenna and Old Joe (Andy Griffith) a crotchety customer. The relationship between the two characters goes through an interesting development that brings out surprises and allows for revelations in both characters. As Earl, Jenna’s abusive husband, Waitress allows actor Jeremy Sisto to delve inside of his character and gives him moments in which he is able to raise his character above the deadbeat stereotype while at the same time remaining a threatening antagonist.
What Doesn’t: The ending is a little too neat and some critics might accuse the film of letting Jenna have her pie and eat it too. The conclusion is not quite this simple, but Jenna’s final decisions are rather abrupt.
Bottom Line: Waitress could be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine, a film without flash that uses wit and subtlety to make quiet but powerful observations about contemporary life. The film is as good as similarly themed pictures like Notes on a Scandal and Little Children but its humor and characterization set it apart from these other films.
Episode: #149 (July 22, 2007)