Glenn Close stars in this gender-disguising film that began its life on the stage with her and one that she’s championed to becoming a film. She gives an excellent performance that looks at a character that has to hide in the shadows to conceal her secret.
Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is a hotel waiter at a Dublin establishment run by Mrs. Baker (Pauline Collins). As you can tell by the name of the actress portraying him, Albert has a secret he is really a woman. His job requires him (her?) to blend into the background and he rarely associates with his fellow employees.
Albert is saving up his tips to open up a tobacco shop and go out on his own. He begins to question his lack of a social life when the arrival of painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer, again a bit of a spoiler although the disguise is pretty easy to see through).
Albert starts to wonder if maybe he can find someone to share his tobacconist dreams with and sets eyes on young maid Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) but she has fallen for new worker Joe Mackins (Aaron Johnson). Joe encourages Helen to “step out” with Albert as to shake the old boy down for funds to go to America.
Albert Nobbs originated from a novella by George Moore. That story was adapted into a stage play in 1982 that Close would originate the role in. She has been campaigning to had the subject adapted for the silver screen ever since. The film has finally arrived and it does feature a fantastic performance by Close as well as her costars.
Janet McTeer provides an earthy, outgoing contrast to Nobbs’ self-imposed exile. Hubert has a wife and a cozy cottage and seeing how he has adapted his deception into legitimacy puts Nobbs on the path to try and set up the same. Unfortunately, Albert’s isolation has fostered a certain naivety and shyness that will ultimately work against domestic bliss. Not that he doesn’t try, yet he underestimates the affection that Helen has for him and the greed of her shifty boyfriend.
The hotel is populated with diverse and interesting guests such as Brendan Gleeson as a friendly doctor and a short appearance by Jonathan Rhys Meyers as a perverse Viscount. Nobbs’ coworkers are also a selection of characters, but none are given too much screen time to make a solid impression. We’re concerned with Nobbs and his world and its slight expansion with the addition of Hubert, Helen, and Joe.
Albert Nobbs is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.35:1). Special features, all in high def, include a commentary with director Rodrigo Garcia and Close, 8 minutes of deleted scenes, and the 2 minute theatrical trailer.
Albert Nobbs is certainly Oscar bait. It has Close playing against both type and gender and did get her a nomination for best actress and McTeer for supporting, though neither or the film would garner any wins. It’s still a well-acted look at the sufferings of a lonely person who is shackled because they can’t be themselves and the lengths that traverse to conceal their identity.
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