Friday, May 25, 2007

Film Review: "The Waitress"

Today I went to see the ultimate chick flick: "The Waitress". I was only one of four men in the audience. There was a reason. The film is gender-subversive.

The story is simple. Three waitresses work in a Southern diner-type restaurant. The lead (Keri Russell) is married to a complete bastard...and gets pregnant because one night he "got her drunk". No woman's responsibility in this pregnancy. A form of liquor date-rape, I guess.

She does not want the baby, but...she doesn't want an she goes to her old doctor for a check-up (female doctor, of course) but finds a new young replacement--a kind of silly, nervous but attractive doctor...who she proceeds to fall in love with, and he with her, and they have lots of sex-heat.

In the middle of the viewing, I thought: it is an old fashioned Romance Novel. It is!!!! Except...and this is the subversive part: The film is so simplistically conceived and executed (including especially the dialogue and unfortunately the performances) that one tends to miss and (or dismiss) the constant anti-male gender politics in it.

(My wife hated the film by the way. Aesthetics, she said, not sexual politics.)

After two long hours, the film ends happily ever-after (for a feminist). Keri gets the baby, plus a shitload of money from an old man who owns the restaurant (played by Andy Griffith...who, although a great actor in his youth and middle age, is sadly served by this film and its silly script...oh, please, affecionados of this is not a is mean and silly female-rant!); Keri gets rid of both husband and married lover and lives happily ever after with her baby and her true female friends. (Oh, yes, one sight of newborn daughter in the hospital magically dismisses all prior--and endlessly kvetching--reservations about birthing and incipient motherhood.)

The film is a sort of an upper middle class 'every feminist woman's dream': have a pretty daughter (of course a daughter; justice: the bastard husband wanted a son), money, a job she likes, female friends, and no men (although one of her waitress/friends does marry a doddering, poem-spewing fool who is good at sex and is used by the women to schlep the luggage from the maternity hospital. Oh, she has found a peace with the sad-sack manager of the restaurant who is happy "with anything that life offers"--not a very strong male exemplar. I do love consistency of theme!!!

I would blame the writer/director/supporting-actress of this piece, Adrienne Shelley, for the gender-politics and obviousness of the two ranting hours, but she has suffered enough: she was sadly and tragically killed in November 2006 in her New York apartment by a South American illegal immigrant (male) who strangled her and hung her up in in her bathroom.

Film reviews say that her husband has set up a non-profit foundation that will benefit female filmmakers in her honour.

In memory, let me state: I will be a most happy fellow when we--all men and women--get along again easily and without unnecesary recriminations.


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