A review on the indie film, Waitress.
|Scooped by Sean Anthony|
Waitress, Movie Review
Independent film director Adrienne Shelly shined in the final movie she directed, Waitress. Waitress is a drama-comedy indie film released in 2007 When this film was released in theatres, it was generally received with positive praise. Rotten Tomatoes, a website with collective data of reviews worldwide showed that 88% (Rotton Tomatos) of the reviews are positive. The box office shows that the film earned $19,074,800 (Box Office Mojo) which is quite impressive for an indie film. Despite Adrienne Shelly being an amazing director, she was not free from the cruel possibilities of life. Shortly after Waitress was completed, Adrienne Shelly was found dead from her bathroom. On that day we lost a fantastic director as well as a fantastic human being that took more risks than most big-named studio films.
Once the film begins, we are immediately pulled into a sense of wonder as we are shown what runs through Jenna’s mind. Off the bat, the film displays characterization, immediately telling us about the character with little introduction. Through the use of cinematography, we are told the name of the pie shop before the characters say it. Realistically, a character will not often say the name of their shop often while inside of it.
What stands out most about the film is its use of conflict to advance the plot. Jenna is married to a man that brings her a lot of grief and suffering. Her only escape from his constant bickering, physical abuse and thievery from her paycheck is where she can create pies within her mind. Through the pies we are given a look at what exactly Jenna is feeling. The names of the pies are a way of providing comic relief as well. For example, one of the pies Jenna creates dawns the name “I hate my husband Earl pie.”
Waitress also breaks away from many of the comforting boundaries set in place by mainstream Hollywood films. For example, the main character of the film is a woman and the plot of the film is not for her to fall in love with someone else. Her goal in mind is to open her own pie shop while she deals with an unwanted pregnancy on the side. How she handles the pregnancy also breaks the normal boundary set forth by Hollywood. Usually when a woman is pregnant in a film she becomes ecstatic and is willing to take care of the child whether or not she wants it. In Waitress, Jenna does not her child and instead refers to her as causing a great deal of pain. It is not until the end of the film that Jenna truly feels compassionate about her daughter.
Another boundary that is broken is through the actions two of the characters have. Often, cheating on your spouse is seen as a very villainous offense in films. However, since the husband is shown to be such a unforgivable person, cheating on him almost feels right. We are given the same thoughts about the doctor’s wife despite not meeting her until the very end of the film. By using cheating in this way, there is a fine line drawn between evil and a necessary evil. There are arguments told on the opposite side that “she can just leave her husband, it’s not that difficult,” but that is where they are wrong. Leaving Earl is an impossible task for Jenna at this point in her life. She attempted to leave for the weekend to attend a pie making competition and win some money, but he found her at the bus stop and pulled her back into his life. If she can’t even escape for one weekend, how can she possibly escape for the rest of her life? This is where cheating feels necessary. The doctor gives Jenna the confidence and strength she needs in order to leave her husband. While at the start of the film she is already a strong character, her husband damaged her and dropped her down to a completely unfair level. The most different part about the affair, however, is the fact that neither Jenna nor Jim are caught in the end. This was the first film I’ve ever seen where both partners in an affair completely got away with it.
By the end of the film, Jenna gains both her child and the confidence she needs to leave Earl. When she leaves, it doesn’t only feel right to her, but it feels right for the entire audience. There wasn’t a dramatic build up to news of divorce because it wasn’t needed. The words themselves were more important than the build-up which is so often hyped in typical Hollywood films. Not only did she break ties with Earl, but she broke ties with Jim as well. Jenna is a strong character that doesn’t need a man’s help in order to succeed in her life. Adrienne Shelly displayed great talent in demonstrating this huge concept of strength realistic and I one day hope that this will become the norm for the typical Hollywood film.