Like Monsier d’Eon or Mrs. Doubtfire before him, the title character in Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs takes shelter in the costume of an opposing gender. Played by the powerful and altogether quiet Glenn Close, Albert finds ways of moving us with few words, a lot of makeup, and a surplus of talent.
Adapted from George Moore’s novel titled The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, the film incarnation tells the story of Albert, a quiet, odd-looking, and timid man who works as a waiter at a posh Dublin hotel. As previously mentioned, Albert holds a secret: he is a woman, hiding behind a suit, a haircut, and an aptly-placed tensor bandage. After encountering Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), a handyman who Albert must bunk with for the night, Albert discovers a fellow cross-dresser who might share in his experiences.
Page reveals to Albert that he is in fact married to a woman, and leads a seemingly normal heterosexual life of domesticity. Inspired by Page’s aspirational lifestyle, Albert pursues a maid at the hotel, Helen (Mia Wasikowska). But Helen is involved with the hotel’s furnace repair man Joe, played to charmingly volatility by Aaron Johnson. The young lovers plot to milk Albert for all of his hard earned money, in order to move to America, leaving the tiny, sad man to solitude. In this comedy of errors, gender, and poverty, Albert must struggle to hide his true biology, while attempting to become a man in his own right.
Within Albert Nobbs, we may see a charmingly conventional narrative of oppression told in an electrifyingly original fashion. Using classical stage techniques such as asides and soliliquys, Albert’s often hushed inner-voice is still heard in a authentically clear manner.
As Albert, Glenn Close simply nails the small nuances necessary to make a subtle character readable, relatable, and interesting to an audience. Watch yo’ back Meryl.
As far as its Oscar future goes, this small but powerful film faces stiff competition from some of its louder, more flashy competition. For Best Actress, it could go to either Close for this exciting role, but chances are my beloved Meryl will be finally winning her third. Janet McTreer also faces stiff competition from Octavia Spencer in The Help. It’s very doubtful that McTreer’s exciting yet understated performance can steal Minny Jackson’s thunder. Albert Nobbs’s best chance at taking home that golden statue falls in the Best Makeup Category. Cos’ hey, any makeup artist that can make Close look anything less than stunning deserves an award, am I right?
What did you think of Albert Nobbs? Drop me a little O day commentary, wontya please?