Review by Jack Foley
THERE’S added poignancy surrounding bittersweet romantic comedy Waitress given the tragic fate of Adrienne Shelly, its writer, director and co-star.
The talented filmmaker was murdered in her Manhattan home last year and never got to see the finished version of the film, or appreciate the critical acclaim of this Sundance indie favourite.
The film does, however, stand as a lasting tribute to her all-round versatility as an artist, as well as providing the romantically inclined with a flavour-filled feast to satisfy their curiosity.
Keri Russell stars as roadside-diner server Jenna, a pie genius renowned for her pastries who is trapped in an abusive marriage to Earl (Jeremy Sisto) complete with a new and unwanted pregnancy to contend with.
When she meets her new obstetrician Dr Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), however, matters take a turn for the better as she begins a reckless affair. But how long can it last before Earl finds out and Dr Po returns to his wife?
Waitress boasts all the right ingredients for a tasty night out – from quirky central characters faced with difficult choices to fruity support players with their own set of woes.
Russell, in particular, shines as Jenna, adeptly mixing smalltown sweetness with a fierce determination to survive. She also mixes excellent coming timing with some of the more dramatic elements of the story.
But she’s ably supported by Fillion’s klutzy but sensitive doctor and her fellow diner co-workers, including – most notably – Shelly herself as a painfully shy waitress and Andy Griffith as the diner’s grumpy owner with a heart of gold.
Just occasionally, the tone struggles to balance issues of wife beating with some of its sweeter indulgences. But for the most part, Waitress succeeds in serving up an appetising experience that ultimately leaves you feeling full of the joys of life.
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD Release: April 28, 2008