Waitress – Movie Review

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When you see what looks like a romantic comedy, with lead actors possessing a lot of charm and good comic timing and what looks like a pretty good script, what’s not to like? Keri Russell (TV’s Felicity herself) takes the lead again as a cute Southern waitress with a genius for making pies (one of the humourous tropes of this movie is that she names the pies after her life dilemmas, e.g. “I hate my husband” pie). Unfortunately, she’s got a pretty bad life (so much so that her fellow waitresses actually discuss how they would never trade her life for their own). She has a bad husband, who got her drunk and then pregnant. Her life seems somewhat hopeless until a handsome new ob-gyn (played by roguish Nathan Fillion) comes to town and sparks fly. Both Russell and Fillion seem totally natural in their roles. They have funny scenes together as the clever lines zing, and Russell’s Jenna also has the support of her two waitress best friends and the curmudgeonly owner of the diner played by a legend of the cinematic small-town, Andy Griffith. Like one of Jenna’s pies, the cinematic ingredients are perfect for something sweet and enjoyable–but this is not that movie. This is an indie film, not a Hollywood rom-com. For starters, Jenna’s husband is really terrible. A deadly combination of smotheringly-obsessive attention, inhumanly-selfish neediness, and corrosively-hostile self-loathing, I could not get past how terrible he was. What’s worse, we viewers are not given an easy excuse to hate and villainize him (y’know, like if he physically abused Jenna, or was unfaithful to her or something like that). Jenna just lies to him and placates him. The tense scenes with the two of them together have an incredibly different tone than the fun ones between her and Fillion’s Dr. Pomatter. It’s almost like two different movies.

So now you’re probably thinking that Pomatter comes along and rescues Jenna from her life of desperation, right? Again, I remind you that this is an indie film, not a romantic comedy. They do fall for each other, but they’re both married. Between the lusty liaisons, there is a lot of guilt and fear about what they’re doing (even despite the horribleness of Jenna’s husband). We viewers are not allowed to feel entirely happy for the two of them as a couple. They’re not really the good guys. If I’m making this ostensibly light and frothy movie seem depressing, well it kinda was. Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of humourous lines and scenes (most of which can be found in the movie trailer), and there was lots of tender, positive stuff as well (including the ending, which was actually a bit abrupt). Ultimately I think this was a chick-flick of the first order. But after leaving the movie I just felt depressed at the horrible person Jenna’s husband was, and the terrible life that she had. I guess any movie that can leave a strong emotional impression like that can’t be all bad, but this was definitely not the movie I expected. (3 out of 5)

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