NATE & MARGARET is a dramedy about relationships, how they work, and how sometimes people drift apart. Nate (Tyler Ross) is an aspiring film student whose best friend is Margaret (Natalie West), a waitress with a problematic past and a desire to become a stand-up comedian. The director Nathan Adloff, who co-wrote this screenplay with Justin D.M. Palmer, takes the model of HAROLD AND MAUDE, puts an indie twist on it, and delivers.
Nate and Margaret together, even while conversing, seem like there is a quiet desperation between both of them that makes them feel like they want something more. Nate is experiencing his first relationship, reluctantly, with James (Conor McCahill). It seems that Nate feels guilty about leaving Margaret alone. Anyone who has gone through a dramatic change in their life like moving away from their hometown, gotten into a new relationship where they had to spend more time with their significant other than their best friend (especially if they are a negative influence on you), or took a chance on a new career can relate to the situation.
Margaret starts to see some success in her stand-up career and is a really good example of, even if you aren’t great at something, keep working on it and you’ll get better. She has a reluctance but also a passion for stand-up, partially because it’s also her way of talking about her history of abuse, her spinsterhood, and other issues in her life. Margaret makes an attempt to reach out to Nate and James but James and her don’t seem to connect.
The movie is shot really well, with dynamic cinematography, excellent sound, and lighting. The director, or more appropriately the production designer Chelsea Warren, did a fantastic job of making the interiors feel really lived in. All of the sets we’re well decorated and made the scenes feel saturated and alive. The characters themselves seemed like friends you hear about in conversations. Not entirely flesh and blood real, but real enough. None of them were played over-the-top, but they did feel a little exaggerated. The film climaxes when Nate’s apartment is robbed and Margaret is blamed for leaving the door open. He puts her failures on front street in a very harsh exchange that actually seemed extra mean in light of how close their friendship was. Throughout everything Margaret still tries to play the peacekeeper and resolve their issues but Nate is unresponsive.
Nate actually has enough on his plate story-wise with his development as a filmmaker that the entire relationship with James could have been dropped with little effect on the rest of the movie. Inserting the relationship was the easier thing to do in terms of creating conflict, but doesn’t really serve the spirit of the story all that much. The ending is resolved predictably but satisfactorily with Margaret forgiving Nate and them both continuing their friendship. Nate moving on as a filmmaker, and Margaret as a stand-up comedian.
NATE AND MARGARET Review
FILM SYNOPSIS - Nate is nineteen. Margaret is fifty-two. Their odd, quirky, totally working friendship gets rattled when Nate gets his first boyfriend, who drives him away from Margaret as she tries to pursue a life as a stand-up comedian.