Saturday, September 5, 2015

Glenn Close portrays a 19th-century butler in ‘Albert Nobbs’

0 comments
About the movie
Albert Nobbs
Genre:
Drama
MPAA rating:
R
for some sexuality, brief nudity and language
Running time:
01:53
Release date:
2011
Rating:
Cast:
Bronagh Gallagher; Jonathan Rhys Meyers; Aaron Johnson; Pauline Collins; Brendan Gleeson; Brenda Fricker; Janet McTeer; Mia Wasikowska; Maria Doyle Kennedy; Glenn Close
Directed by:
Rodrigo García

YOU'D THINK a movie about a male impersonator who calls himself "Nobbs" would have more of a sense of humor.

Alas, "Albert Nobbs," featuring Oscar-nominated Glenn Close as a 19th-century Irish woman pretending to be a male butler, is determined to be an earnest tragedy, pleading for tears that never come.

So why the Oscar nomination? I suspect that part of the reason is that Close (also producer) worked doggedly and heroically for 30 years to bring this project to the screen - it's based on a stage play that she performed three decades ago and has been nurturing ever since.

Now it's finally here, with Close in the title role, playing a woman who poses as a man in order to protect herself in a world dominated - physically and economically - by men.

The wrinkle in "Nobbs" is that its subject is economic and social justice, not sexuality. Albert is the persona invented by a woman who finds practical advantages in manhood. She makes a better wage and is treated with more respect than the maids and kitchen workers who gossip at the kettle all day.

And when Albert starts to woo one of these girls (Mia Wasikowska), it's clear that "his" interest is not sexual - she's a fixture in a dream life that for Albert includes a little tobacco shop and a wife, the sort of dream available only to men. And not to many of those - Wasikowska is also wooed by a young Irishman who must go to the U.S. for a job and a future.

"Albert Nobbs" tries to build suspense around the possiblity of Albert being exposed. He's forced to take a roommate when the hotel hires a boisterous handyman (Janet McTeer) to paint the lobby.

When I first saw McTeer (also nominated for an Oscar), I didn't recognize her as the same actress who starred in "Tumbleweeds," but I knew right away she was a woman. If the movie wanted credibility, it should not have hired an actress with Jayne Mansfield's chest.

As for Close, she looks nothing like a man. Nor much like a woman. Pale, stiff, unblinking - she's like an androgynous ghost walking around in a bowler hat, like something out of a zombie version of "The Avengers."

Oh well, in the eyes of Oscar, it's the year of the domestic. "Albert Nobbs," "The Help." Which makes it even harder to explain why "Jane Eyre" was overlooked.

 

Daily News Film Critic
0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter