Waitress: Murdered Director’s Tour de Force Arrives on DVD Posthumously





             Adrienne Shelly’s promising career was cut short on November 1, 2006, when she was robbed and hung in her Manhattan apartment by an illegal immigrant who later confessed to committing the murder. At the time of her death, she had recently completed Waitress, an engaging ensemble dramedy which she had not only written and directed, but had co-starred in as well.

            The film focuses on the divergent fortunes of a trio of twangy-accented waitresses working at Joe’s Pie Diner, which appears to be the social hub of their tiny, close-knit community. The picture’s primary plot revolves around Jenna (Keri Russell), a pregnant piemaker, who’s hopelessly stuck in a bad marriage to an abusive jerk (Jeremy Sisto).

Desperate for a way out of her dire predicament, she decides to enter a pie cooking contest with a $25,000 grand prize. If she wins, she plans to use the money to leave her husband. She simultaneously embarks on an ill-advised affair with the town’s newly-arrived gynecologist, the dashing and debonair, but also-married Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion).

Meanwhile, both of Jenna’s confidantes and colleagues, ballsy Becky (Cheryl Hines) and nerdy wallflower Dawn (Shelly), have their own emotional baggage to unload, but nothing quite as self-destructive. The counter girls’ dysfunction doesn’t escape the observant eye of their elderly boss, Joe (Andy Griffith), a sage old soul able to size up a situation without much information.

Equal parts comedy and drama, Waitress is a warts-and-all tale of female empowerment featuring adult-oriented humor as sophisticated as the mature themes it tackles. Posthumous kudos are in order for Ms. Shelly for figuring a way to present her trio of flawed heroines so empathetically, given their behaviors’ crossing over into the outrageous and the unsavory.

It’s just a shame that this multi-talented woman with so much potential who dreamt it all up was taken from us before her time.