The Philadelphia Film Festival came to a close with awards and a screening of Adrienne Shelly's Waitress. As far as the awards went, the only thing I really noted was Severance winning Danger After Dark. The Danger After Dark program (which I tend to gravitate towards) includes all the horror and, up until recently, Asian gangster films (which were given their own spin-off program this year). The most fun I had at any Danger After Dark screening this year was Severance, so it was nice to see it get some love.
Waitress is a funny, sweet, endearing tale about a waitress (Keri Russell) in a small town who makes pies and suffers under the petty dictatorship of her husband (Jeremy Sisto) who just got her pregnant, complicating her plan to run away. Her new doctor (Nathan Fillion) offers a ray of hope as the two fall in love, but ultimately she has to deal with her husband, her baby, and her life. A straightforward rom-com premise executed effortlessly by all involved.
Since I never really watched much Felicity, I had no opinion one way or another on Russell's acting chops, but she shines here, pulling off good-natured hopelessness with aplomb. Nathan Fillion shows another side of the dopey smartass he honed on Firefly with a lot more aw-shucks thrown in. He's evolving into a formidable comic talent.
Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Shelly portray Russell's fellow waitstaff, playing off each other with crackerjack timing. Hines in particular gives a performance that skirts Best Supporting Actress territory. Jeremy Sisto, Eddie Jemison, Andy Griffith, and Lew Temple all give top notch support.
At the end of the credits, we see the words "In Loving Memory of Adrienne Shelley." In light of its sad backstory, Waitress ends up being a bittersweet tribute to Shelly as triple threat - writer, director, and actress.