Adrienne, the Adrienne Shelly biopic, and a look back at Waitress

Adrienne Shelly

Adrienne is the story of Adrienne Shelly. She was an actor, writer, and director. She was murdered in 2006, just before her last film, Waitress, was to be shown at Sundance. The documentary is available on HBO Max.

Adrienne Shelly was at the top of her game in 2006. She’d been a success, but felt that Waitress was going to be something special. And then it all stopped.

The documentary tells her story from her childhood through to her murder, but it also tells the story of how her husband, Andy Ostroy, and daughter Sophie survived her loss. The documentary was directed by Andy Ostroy and is a beautiful and moving portrait of a woman with great talent whose life was cut short.

In the late 2010s, Waitress was adapted into a Broadway musical with music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles. It closed in January 2020, but a new version is back on Broadway. Scenes from the musical are included in the doc.

Adrienne is a tribute, a love letter, and a cry of grief.

I thought the way the story was told by Andy Ostroy was brilliant. The order of events he recounted – the photos and video clips he included, the comments from friends and other actors, the prison interview with Adrienne’s killer, and the closing with her legacy continuing in the Broadway musical was perfect storytelling. It was full of love and grief and very touching.

Sophie was two when her mother died. (Sophie was the little girl at the end of Waitress.) As she grew up, her father recorded their conversations whenever Sophie asked about her mother. When she was younger, he wrote them down. As a teen, he began recording their talks on video. Watching her progress through the processing of the loss of her mother was the most touching part of the film for me.

Adrienne is a tribute, a love letter, and a cry of grief. It’s must see viewing for anyone interested in women who have asserted themselves in Hollywood and worked to make change for themselves and others. Her death was a great loss.

A look back at Waitress

I remember Waitress from 2007 fondly. After seeing Adrienne, I thought it would be good to watch it again. Hulu has it as part of their subscription price, and several other streamers (including YouTube) have it for a small fee.

Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, and Adrienne Shelly in Waitress

The film tells the story of Jenna (Keri Russell), a pie maker of extraordinary creativity. It’s feminist at a time when that was the exception. The film was Adrienne Shelly’s creation. She wrote, directed, helped design the sets and costumes, and acted in it.

Jenna is married to Earl (Jeremy Sisto). He’s a horrible person and she wants to leave him. She works in a pie shop with Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly).

Jenna gets pregnant. She falls in love with her doctor (Nathan Fillion). Their story was cute and funny.

Jenna’s the only person who can stand Old Joe (Andy Griffith), the diner’s owner. He is a cranky old poot.

The film had a perfect, feel-good, happy ending. Watching it again after almost 15 years made me realize how many wonderful, women-centric, films Adrienne Shelly could have made in those 15 years.

Why not have an Adrienne Shelly tribute night and watch both these films?

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