By Don Simpson | May 30, 2012
Director: Nathan Adloff
Writers: Nathan Adloff, Justin D.M. Palmer
Starring: Natalie West, Tyler Ross, Conor McCahill, Gaby Hoffmann, Charles Solomon Jr., Cliff Chamberlain, Danny Rhodes, Allison Latta, Sadieh Rifai, Shawn Ryan, John Ainsworth
Margaret (Natalie West) is a 52-year-old amateur stand-up comedian. Her best friend is Nate (Tyler Ross), a 19-year-old film student. Because of their age difference, one might ask why Nate would choose Margaret as the person he hangs out with the most? Writer-director Nathan Adloff’s answer to that question is simply that it does not matter. Of course Adloff is well aware that our society is confounded by spring-winter friendships — which is sort of the whole point of Nate & Margaret, to show that age does not matter as much as people think. And, really, why does society stipulate that friends must be of the same generation?
In the cinematic universe of Nate & Margaret (which bares a close resemblance to reality) it turns out that Margaret and Nate’s friendship is not all that different from same generation friendships. They encounter many of the same ups and downs, just with the added pressure of society’s ever-present judgment. Rather than discussing how Margaret and Nate became friends (which would have turned the focus on the “why” rather than the normalcy of their friendship), Nate & Margaret begins in medias res, focusing on one specific low point of their friendship, when Nate begins dating his first boyfriend (Conor McCahill). Nate is blinded by young love and all but forgets about Margaret. All the while Margaret’s stand-up career is finally beginning to take off, unfortunately the one person she wants in the audience (hint: Nate) keeps blowing her off. If Nate would have only listened to Margaret’s stand-up routines he would have known exactly what to expect from his first relationship (hint: pain and sorrow). Nate’s heart is promptly broken and Nate eventually realizes that he really screwed things up with Margaret.
Nate & Margaret may sound like an odd couple tale along the lines of Harold and Maude — and I guess that is not too far off the mark, though Adloff’s tone is much sillier and there is no sexual tension between the lead characters. Natalie West’s performance as Margaret is damn near perfect, especially in the nuanced evolution of her character’s stand-up routine as West pulls off the horrible flops just as well as when her character really nails it. Additionally, Tyler Ross and West have really great chemistry together, which really sells the legitimacy of their friendship. In the end, that is the real key to Nate & Margaret‘s success — its ability able to convince the audience that Margaret and Nate are really best friends and there is nothing strange about that.
I also like that there is really no discussion about Nate’s sexuality. He starts dating a guy but Adloff does not feel the need to make Nate & Margaret about Nate’s sexuality. Again, this is all about normalcy. There is nothing strange about Nate’s first dating relationship. There is no reason to harp on that. All that matters is that Nate experiences his first relationship and the result is a broken heart — something Margaret has experienced a few too many times.
It is also worth noting that Nate & Margaret was acquired for worldwide distribution by Breaking Glass Pictures prior to the film ever screening at a festival. Nate & Margaret‘s world premiere will be at the 2012 FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival.