Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Waitress (2007)

This quirky, indie film was a very pleasant surprise, made all the more poignant by the fact that its writer-director Adrienne Shelley was murdered, aged 40, by a sneak-thief shortly before the movie's debut. She registered as someone to watch in her film debut in Hal Hartley's 1989 gem "The Unbelievable Truth". Over the years she continued to act, write and direct, but most of her output stayed sub-radar. On the strength of this movie, cinema lost a major talent with her death.

Keri Russell in a brilliant turn plays a small-town waitress married to and pregnant by her pig of a husband, Jeremy Sisto, whom she dreams of leaving. Her only fulfillment is in imagining and baking fantastic pies which are served daily at the diner where she works with cynical Cheryl Hines and wallflower Shelley. When a new doctor hits town and takes over her pre-natal care, an irresistible attraction arises between them, despite his being married to a perfectly fine wife and her being both chained to the jealous and violent Sisto and lumbered with an unwanted foetus. The viewer can't help but root for this pair, despite knowing that they have no long-term future. The cast is rounded out by a sparkling turn from Andy Griffith as the cantankerous pie-diner owner with a soft spot for Russell. (I didn't even realise that he is still available!)

The film is very winning as it traces the romances of the three co-workers, especially that of frumpy Shelley and her nerdy suitor. It is also extremely colourful as Russell dreams up and creates her fantastic pies. All in all, this is a mouth-watering success.
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