A Two Thumbs Up Pie, with Whipped Cream and a Cherry on Top!!
Life is all about the pursuit of happiness, or so it is stated in the Constitution of the United States of America. And in the latest independent film, Waitress, directed by the late, but-oh-so-talented Adrienne Shelly, the constant search for something uplifting and inspirational floods the screen in a blend of humor, forbidden romance and saliva-forming pie delicacies.
Opening at Sundance to rave reviews from critics all around, the film has since been traveling nationwide for free screenings in an easy attempt at 'word-of-mouth' marketing. If people don't already have a mouthful of pie to stop them from talking, you'll be hearing wondrous comments about this story.
Jenna (played by Russell) is a small-time waitress at a pie shop in a small-time town in that little slice of America we all believed to be dormant. But when her abusive husband (Jeremy Sisto) gets her drunks one night and impregnates her, her world is ready to turn upside down. Jenna had always dreamt of an escape from her present life; a fresh start. Cue Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) who jump-starts Jenna's lust for life and true love as her replacement gynecologist. With a bun in the oven, Jenna's baking endeavors skyrocket with the hopes of winning $25,000 in a pie contest and one last shot at escaping her terrible husband. Whether it be on her own or in the arms of her doctor is an intense decision she must decide.
Keri Russell, according to my insight and sources, seemed to fall off the face of Celluloid Earth once her Felicity series ended. Aside from a run of small roles in big/mediocre films, none have really heard any from her. She reminds us how beautiful those homegrown country girls can be: how defenseless, how passionate and how much they can offer intellectually, spiritually and on a culinary level. Keri Russell is back, and ready to bite!!
Nathan Fillion is known to too many as a wisecracking captain of a starship in outer space, so seeing him as a nerdy, anxiety-encompassed gynecologist was almost a stretch. But his subtle and not over-the-top acting brought the beautiful degree of chemistry between Russell's character and his. It was his moment to shine in a situation he wasn't used to, and his light burned bright. His comedic timing was spot-on, and sharing the screen with Russell left us craving more intimate moments not shown so such on the silver screen anymore.
Jeremy Sisto is the controlling husband we all love to hate. He wears his insecurities on his sleeve, continually forcing his wife to remind him that she loves him and will never do anything behind his back. The brute of the film, he talks himself out of his emotions and talks himself into thinking he is right all the time. The headstrong type are usually never right; though the casting choice left the audience wondering how much one can really despise Sisto's character. A stellar performance indeed.
The ensemble supporting cast was mixed better than any dessert I could ever construct. The onscreen personas provided by Cheryl Hines, Andy Griffith, Adrienne Shelly, and even Eddie Jemison left each scene standing alone on its own. Every character in this gem is working hard to find happiness although some search in the wrong places; sometimes through lust, sometimes through spontaneous poetry and stalking while sometimes laying a hard hand on the one they walked down the aisle with years ago.
In this film, there is a sexual revolution for one woman and her doctor. In this film, there is a life to be given to one baby. In this film, there is nothing but good-ole pie to eat. Waitress is a humble return to the romantic comedy genre; one not relying on humor to carry the film or its romance. Like the pies created inside its running time, it takes just the proper blend of all the ingredients to make everything taste absolutely perfect. Order up!!