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Netflix fix: 'Nate & Margaret' a quirky, sincere love letter to friendship

By by luis rendon/lrendon@vicad.com
Jan. 23, 2013 at 4:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 22, 2013 at 7:23 p.m.

"Nate & Margaret" is a clever love story between two unlikely friends.

WATCH IF.

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• Rated R

• 1 hour, 41 minutes

• Watch if you want to see Krysten Ritter in an OK romantic comedy. Also, a baby is involved.

'Charlie Bartlett'

• Rated R

• 1 hour, 36 minutes

• Watch if you like high school comedies with bite. Also, a drunk Robert Downey Jr. is involved.

'Young Adult'

•  Rated R

• 1 hour, 33 minutes

• Watch if you want to see a Diablo Cody movie that is as far away from Juno as you can get. Also, a crazy Charlize Theron is involved.

We've all had that weird friend no one else quite understood. Sometimes, it's an old friend, maybe a college roommate or camp friend, who doesn't quite mesh with your new group. Sometimes, it's someone from work who hasn't quite managed to break into your group of regulars. And sometimes, it's a 52-year-old woman who is attempting to start a career as a stand-up comedian.

That's the case for Nate, half of the quirky, sincere and aptly titled "Nate & Margaret" (No rating, I'd say PG-13, 1 hour, 18 minutes ).

Nate is a gay 20-something film student in Chicago who only occasionally has friends from school. Margaret is a spinster, also without a social circle, and lives in the same building.

This is all we get as far as why the two are friends, but it works. Because even though the shtick here is that he is young and she is old, you could imagine anyone making friends with someone different than yourself when you're lonely enough.

The two are a fascinating pair - true friends. Most times in movies and TV this relationship would be presented as some sort of mentor/mentee conceit in which Nate learns a life lesson from Margaret and he goes on to live his life to the fullest with Margaret feeling like her life's work is done. That is not this movie.

Nate is not doing Margaret any favors by being her friend, and Margaret has little to teach Nate. Instead, they go to parties together, he helps her with her jokes, and she holds the boom mic when he needs help shooting his student films.

Nate's college peers, of course, don't understand Margaret or why the two always show up to the aforementioned parties together. It's almost as if Nate and Margaret's world doesn't work when others are around but only because no one can stop asking if Margaret is Nate's mother.

When James, a free-spirited party boy, takes a romantic interest in Nate you can begin to see the formation of cracks take shape between Nate and Margaret.

As Margaret's career begins to take off, Nate starts to disappear, pulled away by James who is uninterested in making friends with "a grandma."

Small and content with figuring out why we hang out with the people we do, "Nate & Margaret" is a breath of fresh air that proves no matter who your friends are, they are yours.

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