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USA 2007
Directed by
Adrienne Shelly
107 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars


Synopsis: Jenna (Keri Russell) is a waitress stuck in a loveless and sometimes abusive marriage to Earl (Jeremy Sisto). She's been sneaking money away to give herself enough to leave him for good. But then she discovers she's pregnant and feels like she's trapped. At least until the new ob-gyn, Dr Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), comes along and they begin an unexpected affair.

It's an impressive thing to make a film about spousal abuse, marital infidelity and emotional cowardice and have it be light, heart-warming and life-affirming. Adrienne Shelly's final film is all these things and more, with performances that you will instantly warm to and villains that you will feel pity for as much as loathe.

Jenna is a woman who wants to change her life but she doesn't really have much in the way of love left in her. She has friends, who sympathise as she tells them how much she wants to leave her husband, and she has her gynaecologist, with whom she has wild sex and sometime later develops a strong bond. But numerous times throughout the film she makes it clear that she's beyond love and that the baby she's going to have is going to be had under sufferance. So it's really quite an impressive feat and a credit to Keri Russell that Jenna is such a likeable person.

Her friends are like a Greek chorus, encouraging her on to embrace motherhood and leave her clingy and violent husband. But their own troubles in love just seem to make Jenna's choice to abandon the whole thing not just more than sensible but the only sane thing to do. Dawn (Adrienne Shelly) goes on a blind date only to find herself with a lovesick stalker and Becky (Cheryl Hines) is having a mysterious affair, her own husband being somewhere between comatose and dead. Jenna's sidestepping of the whole problem is only really complicated by Dr Pomatter and the growing relationship she has with him.

It takes courage to change your life and more than that, it needs love. This beautiful film more than adequately illustrates this point, as Jenna's growing love both for herself and others results in major changes in her life and lives of those around her. Somehow, all the darkness contained in all the messed up things happening in Jenna's life and around her, is transformed. The film manages to approach all these situations with such compassion and love that flawed people are seen as humans instead of objects of judgement and condemnation. There's not a nasty bone in the body of this film.

Waitress is a story about love. The lack of love, the loss of love, the hunger for it, how the need for it can consume, the fear of it provoke, what it looks like when it goes wrong, what it can be when it goes right, how it dies and how it grows. It's a really wonderful film, and you should go and see it now.




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