A Real Ladies' Man
Movie Review: "ALBERT NOBBS"
Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012
Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012 17:01
Rodrigo Garcia's most recent, Oscar-nominated effort "ALBERT NOBBS" wastes no time telling you what it is going to be about - if you weren't already aware. It features the role that near-legendary actress Glenn Close has been dying to play on screen for over three decades, since she originated the role on stage in 1982. It's undoubtedly a role very personal to her.
The whole entire film takes place in and within close proximity of a hotel (or at least it's called a hotel, it's more like a bed & breakfast) in Ireland, which is staffed by maids, waiters, and various other employees. One of them happens to be Albert Nobbs – a waiter himself. Or, rather, herself. Nobbs is a in fact a woman that, for reasons which we are not told, has decided to disguise herself as a man in order to work in the hotel and save up a significant chunk of change so she can buy her own business. The only problem is that he/she doesn't interact well with others, nor does he/she possess a strong circle of friends. After accidently revealing her breasts to the man she shares a bed with one night, she decides that she needs to find somebody to love - somebody to help open a tobacco shop with his/her savings!
Bring in Helen (played by the gorgeous, naturally pale skinned Mia Wasikowska), a maid who is currently having a fling with the young and good-looking Joe (some guy named Aaron Johnson, who went to the official Hollywood school of look-alikes studying Casey Affleck impersonations,) who on most days is a complete drunken asshole. Helen is in fact a woman, and Nobbs asks her to "walk out" of work with him/her, something of a status symbol within Ireland at the time. She originally shrugs off his/her request until she tells Joe about it, and he sees the offer as a chance to take him/her for everything he/she is worth – i.e. bottles of whiskey, chocolates, and articles of clothing. Joe also claims that he will take Helen to the United States once they come about enough money to do so. I don't think it's worth it to give away anything else, because for a movie with such a small set and a major plot point exposed within the first ten minutes, it takes twists and turns quite deceivingly.
However Close, garnished by such outstanding makeup that makes you think she might have been an extra in Kubrick's "BARRY LYNDON," speaks in a low-toned, almost awkward voice in an attempt to conceal her masculinity. From the first time you see her you are aware she is a woman because of her soft eyes and gentle movements – her Nobbs character just doesn't carry the general demeanor of a man. This is probably a positive aspect for the movie, but it really could go either way depending on you, the viewers, thoughts and ideas. It is an extremely notable plot point that Nobbs is made out to have manners, as no man could better understand how to act respectfully than a woman posing as a man. Furthermore, the film was very well shot for such close-quarters. It does a good job of displaying some of the grey-toned, aged beauty that the country of Ireland possesses. The minimal use of a soundtrack exemplifies the rather simple life that anyone working in a hotel at that time would sustain, making it a rather sad story.
"ALBERT NOBBS" is also a story that tells you how love works. Realistically, you can only fall in love with those that are close to you, seemingly within your immediate grasp. In such a small setting like a hotel similar to a bed & breakfast, Albert Nobbs barely had more than a handful of people that were within his/her immediate grasp. In fact, the men are often drunken pigs and the women sometimes made out to be sex-driven. Because of that, Nobbs naturally finds himself/herself attracted to the genuinely most beautiful person at the hotel - Helen. This is such a natural tendency within human beings that I am utterly shocked that this is the first time I can ever remember seeing this inevitable shallowness exposed on the big screen. All in all, "NOBBS" is a funny yet dramatic display of both good acting and expressively confused human desires – something I would recommend to anyone who can stomach two hours of Irish accents.