Considering WAITRESS on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2013 § 1 Comment

photo-27WAITRESS came out in 2007.  Many of us have seen it several times.  If you haven’t, do so now.

IMDb log line says:  “Jenna is a pregnant, unhappily married waitress in the deep south. She meets a newcomer to her town and falls into an unlikely relationship as a last attempt at happiness.”

So why this for Valentine’s Day?  Well, frankly, Eric at my local film rental shop insisted.

One good friend, upon hearing I’d re-watched it to review it, laughed at the thought of my husband stuck watching with me.  I howled appropriately and assured her I’d watched alone.

To her mind, it’s a chick flick.  Maybe so.  But I watched it alone to give my whole attention to it.  WAITRESS is a stunning little achievement, a sugar sweet air tight capsule containing in every line exactly what we mortals need to hear in order to understand, and if we’re attentive and very lucky, actually feel how love enters a human heart.

Alchemy.  Magic.  Grace.

220px-WaitressNot just chick stuff.  And I’m not really crediting the falling-into-love-with-your-newborn hospital scene Jenna has with her baby Lulu here.   I’m crediting this film’s lighthearted authenticity, clear concise writing, spot on acting, and an unusual ability, on the part of, I can safely assume, the screenwriter, to turn what’s truly vital about her subject into visual substance.

I paid such close attention to the screenwriter’s visual substance that I even noticed three infants were used for Lulu.  Odd little facts.  Things that usually roll away from audience scrutiny in credits nobody reads as they stumble, instead, towards the ‘fridge for more beer.

But with this movie, after it, I looked deeper.  Because Eric told me his heart ached that Shelly wouldn’t be writing any more movies.  Why, I’d asked.  She died in 2006, just before the movie was released.  His attitude was that if you’ve got to go out with one project to your name, wow, what a product Shelly left us.

I looked into Shelly.  And very quickly, per internet search, discovered a foundation her husband created to honor her memory, the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit that benefits female filmmakers, http://www.adrienneshellyfoundation.org.  I teared up as I read on about her, as one would for any artist, anyone dying young.  She wrote WAITRESS while pregnant with her daughter, Sophie.  Sophie stars in her mother’s film as the toddler Lulu, walking away in that darling yellow matching flounce dress with Jenna in the movie’s last scene.  Silly facts, yes.

But the poignancy.  The baby, its mother, the art, the way the film works, everything captured on film, portraying women and men and the human condition so beautifully.  And little Sophie, now, will always have her mother to watch on-screen as the goofy, pasty skinned, ultimately deeply loved waitress who inspires poetry…

I miss my mother.  I guess I’m her legacy living on, my love for my family the proof that she showed me how to love.

So, on Valentine’s Day, here’s one woman hoping that… no, scratch that… knowing that Adrienne Shelly’s daughter will always have, in her mother’s film, playing out before her, not just proof that, probably because of her, her mother knew how to write a love scene between a mother and a newborn but also that her mother knew how to touch every single viewer with proof that LOVE IS, and did it through the impossible, literal density of the silver screen.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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