Thursday, March 22, 2012

Albert Nobbs (2011)

Directed by: Rodrigo Garcia
Starring: Glen Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska

The setting is 19th Century Dublin, Ireland. A middle-aged man by the name of Albert Nobbs (Glen Close) works as a butler in a small hotel. Albert works hard for the measly pay that he receives, but saves his money with hopes of one day opening his own business (a tobacco shop.) His existence is a lonely one; Albert is living a lie that will ruin him if anyone ever found out.  In case you haven't heard by now, Albert Nobbs is not really a man. Albert is actually a woman dressed like a man in order to find a good enough job to survive in a harsh world.  One night, a painter named Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) comes to stay at the hotel. Albert is horrified to find out that he will have to share a room for the night with Mr. Page.  It doesn't take long for Mr. Page to discover the fact that Nobbs is really a woman. The next morning, and to Albert's surprise, Hubert reveals her (very large) breasts to Albert, letting him know that he is actually a woman too.  Hubert is also married to a woman; but, she is forced to live a lie as well. Hubert lives as a man to avoid prosecution and public ridicule from being in a homosexual relationship with another woman.

The narrative of the story then shifts into the friendship between Albert and Hubert, and how they help bring out the best in each other. They both dream of better lives and living in a world where they can be their true selves.  Albert, who most likely has no interest in a sexual relationship, begins to court a young woman named Helen (Mia Wasikowska.) Albert sees Helen as more of a companion than a lover. Helen herself has ulterior motives; she is prodded by her boyfriend to pursue Albert in order to get to his money. Reality soon sets into the plot, and Albert's world takes a turn for the worst. The ending of the movie leads one to believe that Hubert will pick up the broken pieces of Albert's life and carry on his dreams.

The idea of a woman posing as a man in order to get a good job is not a far stretch given the time in history that the story takes place. In 19th century Europe, women had very little rights; a good paying job certainly wasn't one of them. It's also not a far cry for gay lovers in the 19th century to hide their relationship from the public. Glen Close, in her Oscar nominated role does a good job of portraying her part. It should be noted that Close spent nearly twenty years trying to make the film come to fruition, after first performing the same role on the stage back in 1982. The narrative runs at a rather slow pace; however, it keeps you ingrained   because if anything, you find yourself feeling sorry for Albert. I found myself wishing for Albert to be able to come out of his shell and live life to the fullest.

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