Directed By Rodrigo García.
Beautifully shot, entertaining and heartbreaking, Albert Nobbs, based on the novella by George Moore, follows the experiences of an efficient unassuming butler at a hotel in Dublin. Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is comfortable in his rigid, structured life, planning and saving to purchase his own business. However, when Nobbs meets Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) he is forced to confront his own identity and his ordered life becomes increasingly complicated. The plot could be described as predictable, but only in a heart-wrenching rather than satisfying way as the central themes detract from it becoming clichéd or worthy.
With such a strong cast it was inevitable that Albert Nobbs would be well executed, with brilliant central performances from Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs and Mia Wasikowska as Helen. Initially, I was unconvinced by Janet McTeer’s performance as Hubert Page, but by the end of the film her character had developed and so had my love for Hubert. All of the male characters were flawed, but Brendan Gleeson was as charming and amusing as ever in his portrayal of Dr Holloran. Aaron Johnson as the overtly masculine Joe provided a striking antithesis to Albert Nobbs, but at times his character and performance felt clichéd and contrived. Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Viscount Yarrell and John Light as Mr Smythe-Willard were an attractive addition to the peripheral cast.
Albert Nobbs, is an interesting experience because it explores and challenges the very notions of gender and identity, whilst also providing entertaining and emotionally demanding dramatic plot. The complicated relationships developed by the main character, Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close), forces the viewer to confront the boundaries to which gender traits are social constructions. These interactions and the discourse between other characters also investigate what we value in relationships, whether it is material or emotional. There are very few uncomplicated characters and each one presents an interesting take on an aspect of love or gender identity.
Visually, Albert Nobbs is attractive, it perhaps portrays a more idyllic version of nineteenth century Ireland than history would suggest, but nevertheless provides an aesthetically pleasing backdrop. A particularly beautiful and unintentionally amusing moment occurs during a scene set in a delightfully verdant and luscious park when it suddenly starts to snow large cotton wool balls. The characters in the scene are aghast, not because it is snowing during a completely inappropriate season, but because of their hats. It does look pretty though.
While it can be viewed as a thought-provoking challenge to social constructions and perceived gender identities, as well as being a rampage against men, Albert Nobbs has enough drama to its plot and sub-plots to be enjoyed simply as entertainment.
Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.