(*homocinematically inclined)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reel Thoughts: The Odd Couple

While it may not be the modern Harold and Maude that it claims to be, Nate & Margaret (now available on DVDfrom Breaking Glass Pictures) is a sweet comic drama about the unlikely friendship between an older woman and a young gay man.

Nate (Tyler Ross) is a nineteen year-old film student whose best friend is his next door neighbor Margaret (Natalie West), a socially-awkward coffee house waitress with dreams of being a stand-up comic. Former teen star Gaby Hoffmann stars as Darla, Nate’s boozy, floozy gal pal who sets him up with James (Conor McCahill). Nate and Margaret have an easy, mutually-supportive relationship where he encourages her painfully unfunny stand-up routines and she bolsters his filmmaking aspirations. Still, Nate is missing out on romance, so when he hooks up with the superficial James, he starts blowing off poor Margaret.

At the same time, Margaret hits on a self-deprecating persona based on her past abusive relationships that actually seems to appeal to people. An exaggerated blow-up late in the film threatens to torpedo Nate and Margaret’s friendship for good, but you hope that they can overcome the clumsy plot machinations and become friends again.

Anyone who has had a close friend shut them out when they get involved with a partner will enjoy and relate to the film. Ross is cute and engaging, while West is humorously deadpan. McCahill is suitably slimy as boyfriend James, and it is fun to see Hoffmann enjoying herself playing a bad girl. Nate & Margaret is almost too laid back and never really catches fire, but it is a nice look at an unconventional friendship.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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