A waitress at Joe's Pie Diner, Jenna (Keri Russell) is also a pie making genius, naming her tantalizing confections after the events and emotions of her daily life. But Jenna isn't happy in her marriage and when she discovers that she's pregnant to her obnoxious husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto), her unhappiness deepens. She shares her troubles with her cheeky fellow waitresses Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (the late Adrienne Shelly), who present her with a baby book - which inspires her to write letters to her unborn baby, discovering a new self confidence. At the same time, a new young doctor comes to town, Dr Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), whose caring attention contrasts with Earl's brutish nature, inviting all sorts of potential for trouble.
Review by Louise Keller:
Impossible relationships are the focus of Waitress, a wonderfully quirky film about pies, lies and happiness. 'Start fresh,' says Andy Griffith's Old Joe, in whose Pie Diner Keri Russell's Jenna works. But starting fresh is not so easy, when you have a violently possessive husband, no money and unexpectedly find yourself pregnant. Writer director Adrienne Shelly has created an unlikely bunch of characters, each with their own problems, and lovingly brought them to life with the utmost care and respect. Their situations might be funny, but at no time do we laugh at them: we care deeply about them all. We ache for their troubles and are lifted by their triumphs in this warmly funny, romantic comedy filled with surprises, when friendship and the unexpected are as mandatory as any ingredient in Jenna's exquisite pies.
To Jenna, there's something magical about baking and she puts her heart into each scrumptious pie she makes. It is her creative outlet, her form of expression, her catharsis and her great joy in life. With recipes descriptive to the point of perfection, it is impossible not to understand the logic behind 'I hate my husband pie,' whose recipe demands bittersweet chocolate be drowned in caramel, or 'Pregnant miserable self-pitying loser pie,' in which lumpy oatmeal with mashed fruitcake is brutally flambéed. This is her escape from her nightmare of a marriage with Jeremy Sisto's obsessively jealous Earl and when she strikes up an unexpected relationship with Nathan Fillion's chaotic Dr Pomatter ('you make me feel calm'), their inappropriate romance is far from sordid, but something quite beautiful and sprinkled with innocence.
It is in Joe's Pie Diner, the focal centre of the small town, that all the action takes place. There, we become involved in all Jenna's relationships, including her two close friends - her waitress colleagues. Cheryl Hines' Becky, whose lopsided breasts are 'something Picasso would have made' is having an extra-marital affair and bespectacled, ditzy Dawn (played by writer director Shelly) finds true love with a nerdy 'spontaneous poet' (Eddie Jemison) whom she meets on a five minute date. And there's Cal (Lew Temple), the grumpy manager who admits to being 'happy enough' and demanding Old Joe, who adores Jenna's pies 'Each flavour opens up, one by one - like chapters in a book.'
Everything works - from the flawless performances to the intricate mood that as swings high and low as a volatile pendulum. There are no easy solutions or manipulated pat endings: this is a vibrant portrait in which the characters recognise their troubles and sing their joys as they partake in a keenly observed, uplifting journey that has no recipe.
There are commentaries on the DVD.
Published February 28, 2008
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WAITRESS: DVD (M)
CAST: Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith, Eddie Jemison, Lew Temple
PRODUCER: Michael Roiff
DIRECTOR: Adrienne Shelly
SCRIPT: Adrienne Shelly
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matthew Irving
EDITOR: Annette Davey
MUSIC: Andrew Hollander
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ramsey Avery
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 25, 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentaries
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: February 27, 2008