I've been passing a little time lately, which is very different than passing a stone or something of that nature. Since I haven't been to see a movie at the theatres in a couple of years, I decided I would take in a film by myself, grabbed the movie pages out of the local paper and wandered down to the watering hole that serves as a branch office of my church, and perused the paper while talking with the bartender and one of the waitresses.
The unusual thing was that there was a new bartender on duty. She told me she had just started there and her previous employment had been at a pancake house in New Hampshire. She had recently divorced her husband, left him in New Hampshire and then turned to Google in order to find some place that never got too cold and rarely got too hot, and, she emphasized with a wink, "A place where there was no snow."
People really need to stop weirding me out like that.
My perusal of the newspaper combined with these events, especially the young waitress asking my why anyone would actually live in New Hampshire if the winters were as the bartender and I explained them, led me to the decision to see a film called, simply, Waitress. Par for the course, really.
If you want to see things blowing up or midgets running around at top speed, this is not the film for you. However, if you are looking to take in an interesting and off-beat slice of life kind of story in which the characters are quirky and odd in very believable ways, then I recommend this film.
Sometimes there are these films where the actors and actresses just look like they are far too attractive and glamorous to fit the roles they are asked to play. These kinds of things always tend to ruin a movie for me, but in this film, written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered while this movie was being filmed, the most important component for me is how well the players fit their roles. Nor do they go overboard in the other direction and make them less than what they would be. At no point do you really have a sense that these people aren't the struggling individuals they are playing.
Keri Russell in the starring role looks and acts the part to near perfection, and that she is the most attractive person in the film works to the advantage of the storyline. Her husband Earl's inability to pull himself together and act normal for more than thirty seconds makes sense in many ways due to his tragic insecurity, and seeing them together in one frame you get a sense that this is a man way out of his league. He'd be out of his league with any human woman, but that is besides the point. By the end of the movie the sound of his car's horn will take you from disgust to deep sighs and then to the absolute depths of pity.
Another element of this film that I quite enjoyed was that as we meet each of the characters we are led to believe we're going to be confronted with a stereotype. As the film progresses, the stereotyped image we have of each character falls to the wayside. Let's just say that in the beginning we are greeted by all the stereotypes you might find working in and taking lunch in a diner and by the end you find all the assumptions you made of these characters based on the stereotypes that have gone before lead you somewhere else. There is an interesting, and far from overwrought, evolution of each of the characters, some so slight you'll only pick up on it if you are paying attention.
The basic storyline involves a waitress working in a diner specializing in pies somewhere in the southern United States. She is unhappily married to a real jewel of a man, as noted above, and is working out a plan to get away and escape, even though she believes the escape will never happen. Her response to the ood times and bad times she encounters is to create a pie based on the people and events involved in good and bad turns, with ingredients that more or less fit the circumstances. ("No, wait, forget the banana.") The employees of the diner bear a somewhat uncanny resemblance in appearance and attitude to the cast of the old television show Alice, which I must believe is intentional as it is actually quite amusing. And so our heroine finds herself pregnant, knocked up as a result of, "that night he got me drunk" as she normally does everything in her power to avoid having sex with her husband. That pregnancy becomes the pivotal part of the story. As much as she doesn't want to have this baby, she would never consider not having it, which leads to the moment her husband Earl finds out she is pregnant and talks about "getting rid of it" unless she can promise him she will never love the baby more than she loves him, a scene that really shows us the extremes of the pathetic insecurity of this man.
And then there is the new Ob-Gyn in town, a man who has replaced the semi-retired regular gynecologist. He's nervous and insecure in his own way, but in a very different way than husband Earl. He plays a much more important role than I will go into, as does Andy Griffith as the bitter old man who owns the diner, a man who is quite different under the surface than he appears on the surface. He has quite a bit of fun reading horoscopes, especially since he generally prefers to make them up and pretend he's reading them.
The ending might seem a little too magical, but if you watch the movie, notice that it is filmed that way.
Sometimes you do just need to stand up and announce it is time for a change, and sometimes help comes from the most unexpected places.