One actor, who deserves to be recognized, and needs to have his career jumpstarted to super stardom is Nathan Fillion (Serentiy, Slither). He continues to amaze and impress me with each passing part he has accepted. As Dr. Pottamer, Fillion is hilarious and utterly charming as a nervous, bumbling, yet intelligent OB-GYN who may be married, but has a definite school-boyish crush on Jenna. His interactions with her are genuine, funny, and most importantly, believable. It takes time for Jenna to begin trusting this new doctor, and Fillion perfectly aligns and nuances his portrayal so the legitimacy of their bond is made clear.
Enter new local OB/GYN Nathan Fillion (Serenity), who will solidify his adorable leading man status forever with this role. His scenes with Russell crackle with old-school electricity, and he breathes hope into her every pore. Even his moral ambiguities are forgiven with his endearing charm and sincerity. Fillion is the whimsical berries in her smooth, trembling custard, and I found myself clapping my hands in pleasure whenever they were on screen together.
For Russell and Nathan Fillion, these are star-making performances. The dialogue between the two is alive with that tricky thing called chemistry. They are so natural, so spot-on with the delicate dance of testing the waters before making the jump of putting one’s heart on the line, that the pair elevates the story necessity that they fall for each other to the level that it is their needs that drive the relationship. Their first romantic encounters remind one of inexperienced teenagers going at it because it feels good. Then it starts to feel right. They talk on the phone; she writes a letter to her unborn baby that she finally has a best friend. Russell and Fillion give us every reason to want these two to be together and slowly divulge all the reasons they cannot.
The frosty concoction only grows sweeter with the addition of Nathan Fillion as Jenna’s tongue-tied obstetrician. As the star of Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Fillion had his share of comic moments, but he’s never had the space to explore the depths of giddy awkwardness he does here. Clearly smitten with Jenna and restrained as much by shyness as medical ethics, he stammers his way through visits with his scowling patient. He’s the molasses-slow Yankee to Jenna’s sharp-tongued Southerner, a magnificent dope to her world-weary firebrand. It’s hard to think of another actor who could wring a belly laugh simply by saying, “I have no response to that.”
Fillion — best known for his role in the Joss Whedon futuristic western “Serenity” — is wonderful here. Fillion’s sideways line delivery resembles that of another terrific actor associated with Hartley, Martin Donovan (Shelly’s costar in “Trust”). Like Donovan, he has a way of placing an extra beat where you least expect it. When Jenna, trying to make friendly chitchat, asks him if he likes the neighborhood he lives in, he replies, “Yeah, it’s nice — if you like trees.” An em dash later, he blurts out, “And who doesn’t like trees?” Fillion, with his wide-set eyes and cautious smile, has the face of an anxious space alien. When he looks at Jenna, his patient, he’s clearly lost in the possibility of a swimmy romance that breaks all the rules.
The feminist overtones of the screenplay may not embrace the variation on the old saying that behind every good man is a woman, but Russell is given ample support from the great Nathan Fillion…Casting directors who see Waitress and don’t move Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion far up on their lists should be committed to a lifetime of finding game show contestants.
The cast, most obviously, should be given much of the acclaim for what works best in Waitress. Keri Russell has quite simply never been better than she is here; she and Nathan Fillion strike an effortlessly charming chemistry together. And to those who know Fillion only from Firefly / Serenity, well, be prepared to be impressed. This guy’s got leading man’s chops all the way, especially in the comedy department …
It’s lovely and delightful, full of heart from the cast and crew all-around. The three friends and waitresses, Jenna (Russell), Becky (Cheryl Hines), and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly), deliver some quirky yet magnificent performances, and I can’t forget to mention Nathan Fillion, who adds a particular amount of charm to the film. Another great Sundance movie that I gladly got to see on this fine day that has hardly any problems and is all around wonderful. I definitely urge you to go out and see it once it reaches theaters – as it was just signed bought by Fox Searchlight.
Andy Griffith–good God, you may have forgotten what a gimlet-eyed, stealthy delight the man is–shows up as Old Joe, the diner’s owner, negotiating a seemingly beyond-hokey arc from curmudgeon to Jenna’s spiritual adviser. And as we’re saying nothing about the fate of Jenna’s pregnancy and her affair with Dr. Pomatter, we’ll instead dote for a moment on the miracle that is Nathan Fillion…..As his work in Firefly, Slither, and the prematurely canceled Drive demonstrate, there is nobody who can spitball a one-liner or measure a double take with Fillion’s aplomb. Constantly aware of and bemused by his cartoon Harrison Ford-ness, he negotiates his large frame through scenes like a kid unsurely piloting a Game Boy avatar by remote. There’s this warm, protective smolder to his gaze that almost redeems the idea of patrician.