Nate & Margaret

Rating:

Where Odd Couple meets Indie Film

Main Cast: Tyler Ross, Natalie West

Director: Nathan Adloff

I do love indie film.  Not pretend indie film (the kind with all sorts of studio support hovering in the background) but real indie film.  Low budget, low tech movies made by people with a passion and an idea and the guts to go for it.  That’s how things like Nate & Margaret end up on my Netflix queue.

At its heart, Nate & Margaret is an odd couple story.  But every odd couple is odd in its own special way – Nate and Margaret are no Oscar and Felix.  Nate is a young man in film school.  He’s gay but hasn’t had a relationship.  Margaret is an eccentric middle aged woman who lives in the apartment next door.  She was abused by both her father and her former spouse and now makes her living as a waitress while trying to make it on the stand-up comedy circuit.  There is no way these two should be friends.  Nate is affable, innocent and kind.  Margaret is closed and socially awkward and generally odd.  Yet with proximity comes camaraderie and these two have each found in the other an unlikely best friend.

The movie tells the story not only of their friendship but the tests to which it is put when outside influences intrude.  Nate has his first boyfriend.  Margaret, against all reasonable odds, actually begins to hone her routine into something accessible and marketable.  What will happen to them when they aren’t just a pair anymore and have to make room in their relationship for other people and other commitments?  That’s the heart of Nate & Margaret, and it’s really very sweet.

Tyler Ross plays Nate as a very young man with a good heart, innocent and caring.  His relationship with Margaret doesn’t come from pity or curiosity – he genuinely enjoys her company.  Natalie West (who you might recognize as Chrystal from Roseanne) is so honestly weird it’s almost hard to watch.  She’s so awkward, yet doesn’t hesitate to attend college parties with Nate.  He might recognize that their friendship is unusual, but she doesn’t.  Both leads are appealing, Ross is adorable and sweet and West never hesitates to make Margaret as difficult to fathom as possible.  They are quite a pair.

Nate & Margaret is not a perfect film, not by a long stretch.   The pacing is uneven, the acting by every peripheral player is tenuous at best and the low budget hangs out all over the place.  But I enjoyed the film – it has an honest charm that’s missing from some of its big-budget counterparts.  If you like an occasional indie sleeper, check out Nate & Margaret.  3 stars out of 5.

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