January 23, 2007
Sundance. Waitress."I'm really pleased and frankly relieved to report," begins Glenn Kenny, "that, a couple of snippable minutes and some dubious music choices aside (that Cake song about the jacket is one thing, but a cover of Howard Jones's 'No One Is To Blame' is pushing it), writer/director Adrienne Shelly's final feature Waitress is a delight, a refreshing comedy that mixes a bunch of familiar ingredients in offbeat ways that payoff every time, much in the way that its title character Jenna (the fabulous Keri Russell) blends, say, blackberries with bittersweet chocolate in her universally beloved pies." "All films arrive at Sundance with a back story, but none have the poignancy of Waitress." On Friday, David Carr spoke with many close to Shelly about moving on since her murder in November. Updated through 1/29. "Sundance festival Director Geoff Gilmore and Waitress producer Michael Roiff were left with the unenviable task of introducing the film, whose tone and spirit is so completely at odds with the circumstances of its debut that it made the situation especially hard to square," reports Carina Chocano for the Los Angeles Times. "A tender, loopy, uplifting comedy about a young woman (Keri Russell) who finds herself transformed by a pregnancy she thought she didn't want, Waitress is the kind of film whose giddy festival debut usually proceeds uninterrupted through its theatrical release. (Fox Searchlight bought the film soon after the screening for a little less than $4 million.)" Vadim Rizov talks with Roiff for the Reeler. Updates, 1/24: Cinematical's James Rocchi: "You'd think it'd be tricky reviewing Waitress - no one wants to speak ill of the dead - but the good news is that endorsing and recommending Waitress is easy as, uh, pie. Viewed in the context of no context, Waitress is a light, breezy romantic comedy with a crackerjack cast and a certain degree of faux-Southern charm that never descends to cornpone mawkisness, and also has a whip-smart comedic sensibility in every scene." "For many years, Adrienne Shelly was my best friend." So begins one helluva tribute from Reid Rosefelt at Zoom In Online. And here's how it ends: I don't see anything bittersweet about this: I am overjoyed. I've been in this business a long time, and Waitress could have come to the festival, gotten a standing ovation and remained unsold. And to sell to Searchlight! She hit the jackpot! I tried to explain how great this was to her mother, Elaine, but even while I was talking we both started crying. But Michael Roiff and I are sure that Adrienne can still hear the laughter somehow and is happy. As someone said at her memorial service, Adrienne's life may have been cut short, but she sure left her mark. Updates, 1/26: "Color me relieved," sighs Mike D'Angelo at ScreenGrab. "Waitress was never going to set the world ablaze, but it's a funny, charming, refreshingly levelheaded portrait of 'a woman in trouble' (to borrow a logline from the guy who came up with the Log Lady), the kind of movie that initially seems a bit clunky and forced but grows on you as you spend more time in the company of its distinctively addled characters." Acquired by Fox Searchlight for between $4 million and $5 million. (Variety). Update, 1/29: Tom Hall: "The movie is a sweet fantasy that is part Like Water For Chocolate and part Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, but it delivers a vision of men that is less than flattering. Male obsolescence is the path to female happiness." Coverage of the coverage: The Park City Index.
Posted by dwhudson at January 23, 2007 7:05 AM