May 29, 2012

See this movie: Albert Nobbs


One of the great things about Video-On-Demand is the opportunity to see movies that never came to our city... this weekend was 2011's little-seen Albert Nobbs, in which Glenn Close plays a woman passing as a male waiter to earn a living in a 19th-century Dublin hotel.

This is a world where male waiters earn superior pay, tips, privacy and prestige, and Nobbs keeps her true life secret until she is forced to share a room with a male visitor at the hotel.

Close's performance suggests vulnerability, sadness and loneliness, with a naive optimism, and it totally worked for me in this tender and touching film.

Based on an Irish novel, and a play from the 1980s that Close starred in, Albert Nobbs in a little bit Downton Abbey, a little bit Victor/Victoria, a touch of a Sandra Bullock feel-good movie, and a whole lot of good drama.


Close is magnificent in her Oscar-nominated performance, as is Janet McTeer in her Oscar-nominated supporting role as a kindred sprit who helps Nobbs see the world differently.  After thirty years of living her life as a invisible charade, a new perspective threatens to destroy everything Nobbs has worked so hard to build and hide.

There is not a lot of fast-moving plot here,  it is a character study of what happens when Albert, invisible by choice, starts dreaming of a life beyond the shadows. This is about the quiet search for love, acceptance, and a sense of self. Albert Nobbs is an emotional and thought-provoking film, with moments of tenderness and heartbreak.  And while it may not be a perfect film, it very well may be a perfectly acted film.

Close co-wrote and produced the film, and it is a tour de force for her. See it.