Waitress Adrienne Shelly

Waitress Adrienne Shelly
With Waitress, writer/director/co-star Adrienne Shelly serves up a delicious slice of rom-com pie with weighty dollops of poignancy in what is tragically her final work following her disturbing murder in November 2006.

Keri Russell is refreshingly effective as Jenna, a waitress with an otherworldly knack for creating scrumptious pies — daydreams of her creations get one’s salivary glands pumping — and enduring the insecure, controlling, asshole-ic tendencies and boorish advances of husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). Battered by her life’s decisions, Jenna wears the impenetrable stone face of a captive resigned to her fate, all the potential joys of life smothered into an elusive dream of escape.

The illusion of being trapped is a theme that runs through most of these characters’ lives, from Jenna’s co-workers Dawn and Becky (Adrienne Shelly and Cheryl Hines), who provide comic relief with their awkward southern charm and dream of finding some sort of liberating love, to the diner’s owner Joe (Andy Griffith), a wealthy, cantankerous old coot who fences himself off from friendship. Even the town’s new physician, Dr. Pomatter (a charmingly nervous Nathan Fillion), falls into an extra-marital relationship with Jenna despite having a loving young wife.

The cast imbues their characters with a fragile humanity that helps the film avoid, or at least bend, many of the clichés that plague most romantic comedies. Although there are moments as predictable as cherry pie and at least as sugary, Waitress largely maintains its status as a more satisfying dish with a healthy smorgasbord of emotional resonance filling the flaky pastry plot shell. (Fox Searchlight)