JASS 248 Waitress Review
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JASS 248 Waitress Review

Waitress Review 

Alexandra Bollman's insight:

On the outside, Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007) seems like a movie we have seen before. A woman in a life she does not want needs to be saved. However, the writer and director Adrienne Shelly finds a way to give the story a fresh perspective while putting sensitive subjects front and center.

 

The film centers on Jenna, played by Keri Russell, a woman trapped in a marriage to a man she does not love. Jenna lives a simple life as a waitress/pie baker in a small town pie diner. The film opens on the discovery that she is pregnant, which throws a wrench into her plans to leave her husband, Earl (Jeremy Sisto).  Her life becomes further complicated when she begins an affair with her doctor, Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion).  Even with this unpleasant scenario, Jenna’s life is not completely dismal. She does have a support system in her friends Dawn (played by Shelly) and Becky (Cheryl Hines) and the owner of the pie shop Joe (Andy Griffith).

 

The film is constantly balancing between hilarity and tragedy. There are some points throughout the film in which the Dawn and Becky become caricatures. In the opposition, we are forced to deal with the somber issues of unwanted pregnancy, adultery, and spousal abuse. Shelly’s variety of characters leads the film in multiple directions that could lead to chaos but only leads to a well-rounded story.

 

Despite being a heart-warming film, Waitress is, unfortunately, shrouded in tragedy. Shelly was found murdered in her Greenwich Village office on November 1, 2006. Her film was then featured at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was subsequently sold to Fox Searchlight. Soon after her death, Shelly’s husband, Andy Ostroy, created a non-profit foundation to benefit female filmmakers. The circumstances surrounding the film bring an unavoidable sadness but it does not detract from its message. The producer of the film, Michael Roiff, pointed out while filming that “She likes to juxtapose comedy and tragedy, in part because real life doesn’t get compartmentalized.”  This especially held true when the film premiered.

 

Waitress has a simple but effective mise-en-scene. The old-fashioned waitress uniforms brings a sense of stereotypical gender roles but also feature the small-town charm that the film successfully projects. Jenna’s constant gloomy expression is perfectly juxtaposed against Dr. Pomatter’s relentless cheery disposition, which we can plainly see is their personalities below the surface. The most prominent element of mise-en-scene is the overall feeling of Americana. These are ordinary people leading ordinary lives and they have mundane problems. However, we all have similar troubles. This familiarity is displayed by the doctor’s office with a doorbell, the dirt roads that lead to the simple homes, and the pie diner in which the entire story centers on. The setting connects us to our shared experiences with the characters.

 

In addition to its mise-en-scene, the film effectively utilizes sound. Each motif is given its own melody or sound which helps separate the comedy from the drama. One of the prominent sounds in the film is Earl’s distinctive car horn. The obnoxious sound further conveys his Neanderthal-like behavior. The musical themes, however, are especially important. For example, every time Jenna creates a pie, we hear a soft, serene melody, which appropriately fits the story, as thinking about pies is how she escapes her reality. There are also two different musical themes for Jenna and Dr. Pomatter: one at the beginning of their relationship and one as their relationship progresses. The music further establishes the evolution of their relationship from an exciting distraction to one of deep connection.

 

The theme of the film is simple and common but with a renewed take: it’s never too late to change your life. When Jenna comes into some money, she is able to give herself, and her daughter the life she wanted away from her husband. The film also brought up some seldom talked about issues. The main message went against typical romantic comedy stereotypes in that Jenna did not end up with a man. She was perfectly happy with her diner and her daughter. It was also interesting to see the story of a woman who did not really want a baby. Even though we later realize she did not want to be tied to her husband, it is rare to see a film staring a woman where the end goal is not to be married with children.

 

Overall, the film was a strong narrative that, despite its ill-fated backstory, makes us feel satisfied in the end. The film did have many different side stories that could have lost the message along the way. I, however, feel the much like Jenna pies, the contrasting elements worked together to make an exceptional film. 

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Waitress (2007)

Waitress (2007) | JASS 248 Waitress Review | Scoop.it
Directed by Adrienne Shelly. With Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Jeremy Sisto, Cheryl Hines. Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south.
Alexandra Bollman's insight:

Gives information on actors/actresses, producers, and writer/director. Valuable for facts of the film (date released, etc.). 

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Adrienne Shelly, Waitress, Sundance - Film - New York Times

Adrienne Shelly, Waitress, Sundance - Film - New York Times | JASS 248 Waitress Review | Scoop.it
All films arrive at Sundance with a back story, but none have the poignancy of “Waitress,” which was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly.
Alexandra Bollman's insight:

This source gives deeper insight on the death of Adrienne Shelly. Gives facts surrounding her death. Gives quotes from close friends. 

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Fantastic $4 million is yardstick at Sundance

Fantastic $4 million is yardstick at Sundance | JASS 248 Waitress Review | Scoop.it
PARK CITY -- Four million appeared to be the magic number at the Sundance Film Festival as acquisitions heated up Monday. Three films sold at or near that price: Fox Searchlight took worldwide righ...
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Gives information on the how much the film was sold for. Also, gives a summary of the film. 

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Guilty plea in Adrienne Shelly murder

Guilty plea in Adrienne Shelly murder | JASS 248 Waitress Review | Scoop.it
A construction worker has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the murder of actress Adrienne Shelly.
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This source tells the outcome of the trial of Shelly's murderer. This is a local news source that although short, gives relevant facts. 

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Movie - Waitress - New York Times

Movie - Waitress - New York Times | JASS 248 Waitress Review | Scoop.it
With “Waitress,” Adrienne Shelly tamed and shaped realism, finding a perfect, difficult-to-achieve balance of enchantment and plausibility.
Alexandra Bollman's insight:

This source gives information about the film. It also gives information about the death of the filmmaker. 

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