Nate (Tyler Ross) is a gay college student studying film production and looking for inspiration. Margaret (Natalie West) is a middle-aged aspiring stand-up comedian. The two are neighbors, and through that become best friends, and in a weird way that friendship makes perfect sense to these two characters. Margaret is awkward, she’s never been married or had kids, and she works at a little coffee shop to support her stand-up career. Nate tries to experience new things, but in his own little safe reserved way. So, the characters seem to complement each other well, though some back story about how they met and what first bonded them together would have been nice. When the film begins, they’re already best friends.
I was nervous going into this, having seen the trailer a while back. I was praying that I wasn’t about to be subjected to a low-quality Harold and Maude rip-off, but I was pleased to discover that Nate & Margaret is more than capable of standing on its own two characters. I suppose my one big criticism of the film is that it tends to be quirky for quirky’s sake. It goes out of its way to be original and out of the box, but ironically that style of throwing random quirky character traits into movies is no longer original or interesting. Nate & Margaret does it better than most though.
My favorite part of the film is watching Margaret’s developing stand-up routine. Although, I don’t think her material gets better as the film goes on. Her performance at the end is good, but certainly not better than some of her earlier jokes. One example I kept whispering to myself over the course of the film and laughing out loud to was when she was talking about her abusive father. She says, “bruises were like kisses in my family. When I got a black eye, it not only meant that my father loved me, it meant he loved me recently.” I found Margaret’s off-beat, dark sense of humor really amusing. It was the true life-force of this film.
Nate’s homosexual relationship with Jason (Conor McCahill) felt realistic, especially as a first relationship for Nate. It’s new and exciting, but he hasn’t learned how to be on equal footing with a boyfriend, so he allows himself to get walked on, compromising what he wants and his relationship with Margaret. McCahill’s performance feels a little too stereotypical as well with his melodramatic demeanor, high-pitched voice, and flamboyant movements, but the couple achieve a nice balance there as Nate embodies absolutely zero gay stereotypes. It works well, and seeing Jason manipulate Nate creates a genuine emotional response in the audience; an inevitability of destruction that plays well in the film.
I have no idea if there are any special features on the DVD because I only received a screener copy of the film, but the movie itself is worth checking out.
Available on DVD from Breaking Glass Pictures on August 28