Albert Nobbs (2011)

A woman playing a man = really trying for an Oscar.

Glenn Close plays a woman passing as a man named Albert Nobbs in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland. Some thirty years after donning men’s clothing, she finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.

It seems like one way for your leading role to get an Oscar is play somebody who is sexually confused. I’m not saying that they will always get it but they will definitely get the nomination, even if the rest of your film blows. This is the case with this flick.

Director Rodrigo Garcia really does try his hardest with this flick. He keeps it small, brings out any type of emotions that he can, and lets humor take over as well but beneath it all, there’s nothing really there other than a boring flick that we have all seen done before. I never felt any real emotions with this film because it was just so damn slow and tedious. If it weren’t for the two main leads, I probably would have dozed off plenty of times because there was nothing here that really kept me over as shocking, new, or even entertaining. Just the same old, same old period piece that feels too much like a play on-screen.

The film also keeps on panning back towards the dumb romance between Wasikowska and Johnson, which doesn’t provide anything else other than just a bunch of corny love-lines that take you away from the whole fact that you got this person who obviously should be the fore-front of the story. But instead Garcia just wants to provide some detail into a relationship that doesn’t work on many levels. I mean they are both good here don’t get me wrong, it’s just that I felt like the flick never did them justice considering they were put in here as the romantic sub-plot that was supposed to mean something, except you never really catch as to why until the final act.

The main reason why this film comes even close to working well is because of the two great performances given here by the two ladies dressed up like dudes. It’s sad to see Glenn Close in a film that is boring because she is so good here as Nobbs. Instead of playing up the fact that she is a chick dressed as a guy, she gives us this subtle and quiet performance and she displays a lot of emotions just on her face with even the twitch of an eye or lip. She’s shy, scared, and keeps to herself but when she’s happy being in her own skin and having these little fantasies, it feels real even if the fantasy scenes are really hoky. Close has really been trying her damn hardest getting this flick off the ground after appearing in the play, and it’s sort of a shame that her performance is stuck in a film that doesn’t really help out her Oscar chances. However, I think she’ll probably get the nomination.

The one performance that I think elevated this film beyond belief was the one given by Janet McTeer as Hubert, a fellow woman in men’s clothing. As soon as she shows up on the screen you know she’s going to be the best part of the flick and she owns just about every single scene. She’s funny, dramatic, honest, and actually feels like a real person. Her act is the exact opposite of Close’s performance but that provides her with a lot of great lines and just by the way McTeer delivers them all with her sneering and cartoonish-like act where you can tell that this is almost her impersonation of a man. McTeer is probably the most memorable performance in the whole film and I can easily say that if I was a woman dressing up like a man, I’d feel a whole lot better knowing that I wasn’t alone with Janet McTeer. Definitely deserves the nomination.

You have so many other great stars in this film such as Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Brenda Fricker, Brendan Gleeson, and Pauline Collins among others but they are never really given much to do and they all come off as just a bunch of one-dimensional characters that don’t do much for the story. There’s also this terribly random scene in which Gleeson is doing some “licking” if you know what I mean, and the scene is completley irrelevant to the whole entire film that it made me wonder just why the hell was it in here in the first damn place.

Consensus: Glenn Close and Janet McTeer make Albert Nobbs better but with its slow pace, muddled script, and nothing else that really stands apart from anything that I’ve seen before, makes this period piece just feel like another stage play on screen.



  1. While I agree that the Mia/Aaron romance was pretty poor ( even more than it was meant to be ) I personally found the apparent (non-sexual) attraction between Nobbs and Mia to be the mot troubling. Were we supposed to be emotionally involved in that like we all other on-screen relationships? Because I certainly wasn’t.

    There is an interesting story hidden in here somewhere, the opening half-hour stands as proof of this, but it gets lost in all of these empty relationships and Garcia’s cynical direction.

  2. That’s too bad about this one being terrible. I saw the trailer attached to The Artist and while it looked interesting, I couldn’t really figure out what it was about. Thanks for the review!

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