Sunday, December 09, 2007

making waitress pie

Adrienne Shelley's Waitress is a delicious slice of a movie. It tells the story of Jenna, a woman who 'doesn't want any trouble, doesn't want no baby [she] just wants to make pie'. Jenna's pie making is legendary, unfortunately so is her husband. Very early on I found myself gasping at his simple brutality and yet somehow Shelley manages to tell Jenna's story with very little violence.

Waitress is, at heart, a movie with a lot of heart. Jenna, played by Keri Russell, is living a small town life and yet Shelley has refused to give her only small town answers. When Jenna discovers she is pregnant just as the local OB/GYN has semi-retired, Dr. Pottamer walks into her life. When the new doc in town turns out to be Nathan Fillion you think "oh, this is a falling in love with the doctor who's love changes everything" movie. But it isn't. And what it turns out to be is so much better, a real treat like Jenna's Falling in Love pie (even better than her Lonely Chicago pie).

The film is a careful alchemy of campy humor, deep sorrow and moments of incredible tenderness. I have no idea how Shelley pulled it off. In one speech which I'm sure will be long remembered, Jenna, writing to her unborn child says:
Dear Baby, I hope that at some point in your life someone wants to hold you for 20 minutes. And they don't pull away, or look at your face or try to kiss you. They just wrap their arms around you and hold on tight.
Beautifully written, masterfully shot, Waitress is on another level a little hard to watch. The director who also wrote the film and played one of the main characters was murdered just before the film was accepted to Sundance. It is hard to see her there on the screen laughing and creating this amazing story and knowing that she is not around now to see its success.

The story of Waitress is not as easy as pie, it's more complicated than that, but it is every bit as satisfying. Like so many of the pies that play out in the film, the ingredients of this story sound crazy but in loving hands they become an unexpected treat.

No comments: