‘Waitress’ concludes semester

Heather West

Independent filmmaker Adrienne Shelley died tragically on Nov. 1, 2006.

Although her promising career was cut short by her murder, Shelley left a lasting mark on the entertainment industry with her final film “Waitress.”

The movie’s simple title conceals a deep and poignant story that sheds a humorous light on the issues of love, marriage and independence.

While Shelley first made headlines as an actress in Hal Hartley’s “The Unbelievable Truth” in 1989, this film brings her writing and directing talents into the mix.

Shooting for 20 days on a budget of $1.5 million, she crafted a professional work that remains true to everyday life.

“Waitress” stars Keri Russell as Jenna Hunterson, a small-town waitress with big dreams – pie dreams, to be exact.

Jenna’s unique talent lies in her uncanny ability to turn any situation in life into a best-selling dessert.

Paired with a charming home and a devoted-to-a-fault husband Earl, Jenna’s life seems to be the perfect recipe for happiness.

However, the film quickly reveals that Jenna is far from happy, and she hatches a daring plan to escape from Earl and start a new life.

Pinning her hopes on the $25,000 prize offered in a pie contest turns out to be a mistake, however, when Jenna finds out she is pregnant.

She also finds herself falling in love with the one man who knows her secret, her doctor Jim Pomatter (Nathan Fillion).

Part of the film’s excellence lies with its supporting cast, which includes Andy Griffith as Old Joe and Shelley herself as Dawn, Jenna’s socially awkward co-worker.

Dawn’s character is primarily a foil for Jenna, but Shelley proves an outstanding actress in her own right.

In an early scene, Jenna gives Dawn a makeover, transforming her from a plain Jane into a stunning young woman.

In a way, Dawn’s transformation reflects the progression of the whole film from a simple, lighthearted story to a compelling masterpiece.

“Waitress” will be the final film in Villanova’s Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “In Memoriam.”

It will be shown four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m.

Admission is free for students and $5 for all others.

The Monday showing only will feature Dr. Heidi Rose, an associate professor in the communication department who specializes in performance studies.

Rose will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward.