A gender bending period piece spearheaded by star Glenn Close who spent decades trying to get the short story adapted to film. Close plays the titular straight-backed Butler who works in a fancy hotel in 19th century Ireland. It’s a time of snotty aristocrats and repressed homosexuals, a time when a woman would spend 30 years disguised as a man in order to make a living. Albert finds a friend in house painter Hubert (Janet McTeer), a fellow woman in disguise, and a possible partner in young hotel maid Helen (Mia Wasikowska). Hubert embodies the ideal life, married to a woman and secure in her sexuality, thus Albert is soon fantasizing about running a tobacco shop with her object of desire. Helen takes advantage of Albert’s good nature and deep savings as it becomes evident that a tragedy is in the cards.
Close gives an admirable performance in a film so sincere that it’s difficult to criticize. The emotions feel true and the conventions standard; expect broken hearts, swelling symphonies, and an Oscar win.
Albert Nobbs opens today at the Ritz Five.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.