Rating: R for sexuality, language and nudity
Length: 113 minutes
Release Date: December 26, 2011
Directed By: Rodrigo Garcia
Stars: 4 out of 5
“Albert Nobbs” is a 19th century Irish movie based on George Moore’s short story “The Singular Life.” Award-winning actress Glenn Close (Albert) injects a breath of fresh air into the film with her credible performance. The film, which she co-wrote and co-produced, holds a special place in Close’s heart. She played the same role in a Broadway play about 30 years ago and had dreamt of bringing it to the big screen for years.
What Is “Albert Nobbs” All About?
“Albert Nobbs” is an emotional drama about a woman who was forced by prevailing chauvinism and discrimination in society to live as a man. Albert lived as a man for over 30 years, working as a waiter at a posh hotel. She is naturally an introvert and a miser, saving money to allow her to purchase a shop and marry a wife.
The arrival of Hubert Page (Janet Mc Teer), a housepainter, jolts Albert from her cozy lifestyle. Hotel administrator Mrs. Baker (Pauline Collins) hires Page for a short stint and stipulates that he share rooms with Albert. The very same day, Hubert discovers Albert’s secret but vows not to tell. In a bizarre twist, it also emerges that Hubert is a woman in camouflage. Before they eventually part ways, Hubert confesses to Albert that she is married to a woman named Cathleen, a dressmaker.
Meanwhile, another guest arrives at the hotel to assist with fixing the boiler. Joe Mackins (Aaron John) begins flirting with maid Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), and they soon become an item. However, it becomes apparent after sometime that Joe cannot hold his drink and is a major control freak.
Soon afterwards, Albert pays Hubert a visit at her home and meets her wife Cathleen (Bronagh Gallagher). They begin conversing, and Hubert tells Albert her personal story. Apparently, she was a bastard child who was raised in a convent but later kicked out after her mother died. At the age of fourteen, she was viciously gang-raped by a band of hoodlums and left for dead. After the terrible incident, she found a secondhand suit and began her transition into manhood.
For some time, Albert has had an eye for Helen, Joe’s girlfriend. She gathers courage and begins courting her with gifts and promises. However, the sordid Joe is aware of this simmering affair and encourages Helen to stick to the arrangement with the hope of benefiting from Albert’s wealth. Helen maintains the affair, albeit with angst as she has dreams of going to America with Joe.
A typhoid outbreak occurs in Dublin City, and the hotel suffers significant losses as staff members, including Albert, are affected. However, she recovers quickly and goes to visit her friend Hubert. Here, she is met with more sorrow as Cathleen has died, and for her tribute, both women wore dresses she had made. It is an unnerving moment when they briefly embrace their real identities.
Meanwhile, Helen discovers she is pregnant with Joe’s child. Joe is terrified of the whole issue-scared he might become abusive like his own father. Albert learns of the pregnancy and offers to marry Helen as Joe is unwilling to go to America with her and her child. Helen refuses as she is in denial, but later that evening, she get into a fight with Joe over the issue. Albert intervenes, and in the ensuing melee, she is tossed headfirst into a wall by Joe. In a sad twist of events, she dies that night from a stroke.
Mrs. Baker discovers Albert’s fortunes after her death and uses the money to revamp the hotel. Joe goes to America and leaves Helen in Ireland where she begets a son. Hubert is hired to repaint the entire hotel, and she meets Helen, who admits she is poor and will likely end up on the streets. In memory of Albert, Hubert accepts to take in Helen and her son.
“Albert Nobbs” is suitable for adults only. Glenn Close and John Banville take credit for writing the movie that was directed by Rodrigo Garcia. So far, the film has received mixed reviews from critics but was nominated for the 2011 Academy Awards for the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories. Outstanding performances by Glenn Close and Janet Mc Teer also earned them Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. “Albert Nobbs” was also nominated for the Oscar category of Best Makeup.