(No longer in theaters)
Fox Searchlight Pictures
May 2, 2007
More than anything, I wish I could write about the boisterous romantic comedy Waitress without reference to the tragic murder of its writer, director, and co-star Adrienne Shelly. It’s hopeless, though. Because the movie is so hit-and-miss, I kept getting thrown out of it and returning to thoughts of its maker—of what must have been her busy inner life, her evident joy in making movies, and her potential, down the road, to develop an authentic American voice and make wonderful screwball farces.
Waitress centers on a creative and enthusiastic small-town pie-baker (Keri Russell), who’s married—rather inexplicably—to a brute (Jeremy Sisto) and who gets thrown into emotional chaos when she finds herself pregnant. The baby is an alien, a parasite, an agent of her husband. But she won’t get rid of it. And her new OB-GYN (Nathan Fillion) is smitten—which means weekly and sometimes daily visits to his office. The ping-pong dialogue seems more suited to the stage than the screen, but Fillion—star of Joss Whedon’s neat sci-fi series Firefly and its movie, Serenity—has the perfect dopey haze, and during his scenes with Russell, some old-fashioned movie magic takes hold.
Shelly’s staging is pushy, and the film doesn’t look very good—the lighting does the actors no favors. But the climax, in which the heroine finally regards her little girl, is wrenching for all kinds of reasons. I think of Waitress as an overstuffed, overcooked pie—too ungainly to eat all of, too generous to pass up, too heartbreaking to contemplate for long.