New Internationalist

Waitress

Issue 404

Shelley’s third feature is a small-town American fairy tale with a grip on the realities of working-class life. Jenna is a café waitress who dreams up and bakes wondrous life-enhancing pies. She gets on great with folk and they just love them pies. Café life is good, but Jenna wants out – to escape Earl, her jealous, boorish, bullying husband.

So she plans her escape – to win the pie bake in the big city to set herself up with a pie shop someplace else. Trouble is, one night Earl gets her drunk, insensible and pregnant. What’s more, he don’t allow her no money for herself and ain’t pleased when he finds she’s stashed away some of her tips. What’s a gal to do? Maybe fall for her obstetrician and ride off in his silver chariot?

There are surprising turns, café society is deftly drawn and Keri Russell is immensely likeable as Jenna. Tragically, writer-director Shelley, who plays the gauche Dawn, was murdered before the film’s US release. We’ve lost a gentle, quirky, very human storyteller.

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