I can watch Keri Russell in anything.
But WAITRESS is the best thing she’s done so far.
It’s a “romantic comedy” with some sadness to it as well, and not just because the writer/director Adrienne Shelly was murdered in her New York apartment before it even came out, or because she plays one of the leads so endearingly just the thought of her being the victim of another homicidal nonentity breaks my heart.
It’s a small movie, understated for the most part, though with the usual independent-movie, quirky characters and dialogue, substituting for "realism"—a lot in the story is pretty unrealistice from my experience.
But it is directed nearly perfectly; not one actor in it is allowed to be in their own movie, as often happens in “independents” with inexperienced directors.
The great, underrated, classic “American” actor Andy Griffith (see A FACE IN THE CROWD) has a small role that he charms in; and Cheryl Hines, the actress who plays Larry David’s wife on CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (thanks Lisa) kicks ass as one of the trio of waitresses at the heart of the story.
The guys are all good too, especially Lew Temple in the smallest of the male roles—“Cal”—the manager of the diner where the waitresses work.
Everyone is given their moment to shine, as actors, as characters, even the unlovable ones.
But it’s Keri Russell’s movie, and maybe you have to like her to get the whole flick.
I like her. In fact I love her in that way an audience can fall for a star.
The only other movie actress I can think to compare her to is Grace Kelly.
The same perfectly beautiful faces, the same unexpected terrific acting chops, even playing against type and making it work.
I don’t watch many TV shows, but I watched FELICITY years ago, just to see Russell and watch her work. She was always beautiful, in that unexpected perfect Grace Kelly way, and yet, never seemed to play her beauty, but in fact against it in a way I could believe, as vulnerable and bewildered as the rest of us.
I loved her as the troubled daughter in Mike Binder’s THE UPSIDE OF ANGER too.
And now she’s got a movie that’s all hers.
WAITRESS is too small a film to win an Oscar, or probably even get nominated. And some of the writing is a little too predictable or "cute."
But Keri Russell is my first nomination of the year for best actress in a film (and Lew Temple best supporting actor).
If you check it out, don’t expect too much though, or you may be disappointed.
Like I said, it’s a small movie, and maybe a little too cute for some people’s taste. Just like Keri Russell might be. But not to me.