Movie Review: Waitress

4 Dec



This week I’ve been watching more mainstream fare, most of which has been unspeakably bland.  Then I was pleasantly surprised by Waitress.   At first when it began, I groaned.   It seemed just so twee–the pies she made with every emotion, the big haired waitresses, the bake-off.  And if the movie was just that, you’d be stuck into a Hallmark hell and I wouldn’t see the point of this movie.  However, and this was a BIG surprise, this movie has a serious center as a meditation on jealousy.

Jenna is the titular character with her two coworkers Becky (the sassy one) and Dawn (the lovelorn one).   She’s in an unhappy marriage in a small southern town and is about to have a baby.   Jenna does not want this baby–because to her it symbolizes being stuck in her marriage, and she has 9 months to get herself up and out of there before the baby comes.

Jenna’s husband is completely jealous of her.   Waitress really gets the idea of jealousy down–see, most people mix up jealousy, envy, and wishing together.  Jealousy is unease because of a fear of losing something.  Jenna’s husband has this–which makes him controlling and unlikable.  Not to mention that he really doesn’t care what she thinks or wants, and sees her as being there for him and him alone.     He even worries about the baby getting more love from her than he will.    He gets in angry spats with her, slapping her at one point, and coming into her work and raising hell.   Then he becomes so insecure that she agrees with him because she’s got no choice.

That’s the thing with Jenna, she’s got no choice.  She doesn’t have the resources to move on, and she sees the baby as another drain on her already tenuous resources.   She is also jealous.   She fears losing her clean start–even though she has money bundled away all through the house, and possibly has enough to make a clean break of it, she still hesitates.   She wants to move on, but she has nothing to move on to.

Paralleling this story is Becky, the long married waitress–however, her husband is severely disabled.  We never know why or how, but he barely functions.  So she has an affair with the cook.   This has no ramifications.  She can’t abandon her husband, she doesn’t really want another family or anything, but at the same time she has some needs to fulfill.    Again, jealousy keeps her down, because she does not want to be the kind of woman who leaves an invalid to fend for himself.

Dawn is viewed as less than attractive.   She goes on mini-dates, and one day a man falls in love with her.   She doesn’t fall in love back, because he becomes obsessed, writing poetry, crying, getting all gooey.   He comes off as a little ridiculous, and at first Dawn is very turned off by this.   However, though he may be a little strange, she falls for him.  The other waitresses see this as desperation, however their relationship becomes one that is full of love, and free of jealousy.  Her husband was envious of her, pursued her, and became a good husband and father.

Jenna’s arc goes through an affair she has with her Doctor, which is clearly acting out because of her unhappy marriage.   She gives her the attention and care that she craves.  Interestingly enough (SPOILERS) they don’t end up together.  He’s happily married, and she just needed someone to show her affection so she knew what it was like.   Once she gets that, the picture of the life she wants to have gets filled in.

Once Jenna has the baby, she finds something that is worth her attention and love.  She kicks her husband out, and her life clicks into place.

Also in this movie is Andy Rooney who is just remarkable as a crotchety old businessman.

Admittedly this movie is a bit gooey, but one thing I have to emphasize is that because the conflict is so real, the fey trappings makes it all the more understandable.  Of course Jenna would through herself into making pies, it’s all she has.  Of course the waitresses would have the same discussions over and over, they know each other that well.   So that at the end, when we get our fairy tale ending, it feels earned.  Jenna tried to leave many times, each time failing, but at the very end, she leaves for good.  And you feel good for her.

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