Thursday, January 26, 2012

Albert Nobbs

"Albert Nobbs" is taken from a short story written by George Moore titled "The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs". Rodrigo Garcia and Glenn Close have done an amazing job bringing the story to life with the screenplay written by Glenn Close. The film has been a project of Glenn Close for nearly 30 years as she performed the title character on stage in 1982. After several production and casting difficulties the film finally found a home with Rodrigo Garcia who Glenn Close has worked with on several projects. Rodrigo Garcia was brilliant with "In Treatment" and continues to show that his ability to transform the embattled female character.

The story of Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is a classical question of self-identity and love. The twist is that Albert Nobbs is a woman who seeks independence in 19th Century Dublin by posing as a man. Although this disguise is financially liberating, it leads to an isolation that leaves Nobbs emotionally unfulfilled. While working in a hotel, Albert meets Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) who has also taken to wearing men's clothing and is employed as a painter. The imprisonment that Nobbs has self-imposed appears to be liberated by Page, who becomes the ideal Nobbs has longed for. Albert's loneliness is not a result of the fact that she is dressed as a man, but that she must choose between two ideals, neither of which she can live up to: man or woman. In her search for happiness, Albert decides, on the advice of Hubert Page, to pursue a courtship with another woman. This fails miserably. Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) rejects Albert because she fails to exhibit traditional male courting behaviors, yet Helen's own behavior is an artifice calculated to seduce Albert out of her money.

The supporting cast is brilliant with Brendan Gleeson as the Doctor standing out in a performance strikingly similar to "The Guard" (2011) as a man that enjoys life a bit too much with the women, food and alcohol. Mia Wasikowska continues to impress, but can she step away from a period piece like "Jane Eyre" (2011) and be a youth like she was with "The Kids are All Right" (2010). Jonathan Rhys Meyers is practically a cameo as the extravagant nobleman Viscount Yarrell who has his own secrets that he can only indulge in the privacy of the hotel. Antonia Campbell-Hughes as a maid has an interesting way to stand out on the screen with her powerful eyes. Her role is very minor, but she is one to watch in the future. However, of all the supporting performances it is Janet McTeer that steals every scene she is in. The audience reaction when she exposes herself to Nobbs was brilliant.

The story of a person suppressing themselves to fit into society has been done before with "Brokeback Mountain". However, the classical approach to the story is treated more delicately with Albert Nobbs. The performances from Glenn Close and Janet McTeer were brilliant and very deserving of an award nomination for lead and supporting, respectively. I would like to see a nomination for best film as this is yet another 5 Quack film for the year.

In yet another example of the MPPA ratings being misguided this film received an R rating and absolutely doesn't deserve it.

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