Albert Nobbs (Roadside Attractions)
Rated R for some sexuality, brief nudity and language.
Starring Glenn Close, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Janet McTeer, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brendan Gleeson, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Mark Williams, Serena Brabazon, Michael McElhatton, Kenneth Collard.
Written by Glenn Close, John Banville and Gabriella Prekop based on the short story by George Moore.
Directed by Rodrigo García.
Glenn Close stars in this week's release of Albert Nobbs, the story of a woman who spends most of her life posing as a man. Nobbs began the charade out of economic necessity, continuing into the early 1900s as she/he works and lives as a butler in an upscale hotel. When Nobbs is forced one night to share her bed with Hubert (Janet McTeer), a "man" hired to paint rooms in the hotel, she discovers that the painter is also a woman posing as a man, and the pair become buddies. Hubert shows Nobbs the perks of gender-bending, including the possibility of marriage.
The thought of having a wife intrigues Nobbs, who then takes a liking to the young and beautiful domestic Helen (Mia Wasikowska). Nobbs begins courting Helen, who reluctantly approves of the relationship, but becomes frustrated when Nobbs shows no no sign of physical affection for her. In the meantime, Helen has a tempestuous affair with the hunky new houseboy Joe (Aaron Johnson), further frustrating Nobbs' plans to settle down.
Albert Nobbs is an interesting film with a unique and powerful performance from Glenn Close, who also co-wrote the screenplay, based on the short story by George Moore. Close's transformation into a male persona works, even though the discomfort she feels is ever-conspicuous.
My main exception with Albert Nobbs is the frustrating nature of the story, which is as complicated as Nobbs' character. I was never sure how I should feel about Nobbs' conundrum. Being a period story, you know there's no way Nobbs can live the dream of marriage, unless the young Helen secretly possesses 21st century values - without tragic results. While sympathizing with Nobbs' plight, I couldn't help but feel a little uneasy with her naivete and pipe dream, which seems doomed from the first scenes of the movie.