Friday, March 21, 2008

Waitress: Unseen Power

Jenna is a waitress at Joe's Diner, a greasy spoon-type hometown restaurant specializing in unique and unusual pies. Jenna is the star pie baker. She has been baking original pies since she was a child. She is an expert. Baking pies is the greatest joy in Jenna's life. In fact, her pie baking is Jenna's only joy.

She is trapped in an abusive marriage that she longs to get out of. That is the basic plot line of the movie. Jenna, played by Keri Russell, is one of the most winsome movie characters of the year. She is fun, level-headed, attractive and sympathetic. We cannot help but like her and care about her terrible marriage.

We feel even worse when her plans for escape are scuttled by her unexpected pregnancy. One night of drunkenness left Jenna with a child that complicated all her plans.

One caveat: abortion is never an option for Jenna. She has made her bed, so to speak, and now she must lie in it. Her seemingly simple (really complex) life gets even more complicated when she immediately falls for the new doctor in town. As Jenna and the doctor begin to carry on, we see how Jenna can be happy, even as she is in the midst of all this confusion and conflict. She knows that her affair is wrong, at least as wrong as he marriage is, but she seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it.

This is a great movie. I loved it because it is simple. The story is good. The characters are eccentric, but you want to believe in them. Everything about this movie, even the illicit relationship, made me smile. I know why I liked it now. It is hope.

In real life, like in Jenna's world, it seems that there is too little hope. A bad marriage, an abusive relationship, an unplanned pregnancy, an extramarital affair, surely there can be no hope in that setting. And yet, Jenna remains a hopeful optimist. She always believe that there is something better coming. She always has hope.

This is what is missing from the world too often. We need more people like Jenna. We need people who do not become overwhelmed with the negatives in life, but rather inject every situation with a smile and a positive word. Jenna made me smile and she gave me hope. Now I plan to spread hope and a smile to someone else.

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