As the 84th Academy Awards approaches, my friends and I needed to cram in as many nominated films as possible. One rainy night we were torn between The Iron Lady and The Artist. Sadly, the timing was not right and we went with our third choice…Albert Nobbs.
If I had to describe Albert Nobbs with just one word, it would be frustrating. Not that finding the word would be hard, but that the word would be “frustrating.”
And now I explain.
Albert Nobbs is the story of a man who is actually a woman dressed as man in order to make money in turn of the century Ireland. Nobbs, played by Glenn Close (earning her an Oscar nod), is an odd, seemingly emotionless man whose sole purpose seems to be to own a shop with his wife. Yup, just earn money, own a shop and get himself a wife. Nobbs shows no other emotions until he meets another man/woman and his world gets all shaken up. Stupid fleas.
Trust me, that last statement will make more sense after seeing the movie.
Anyway, the reason this film is so frustrating is that the main character is developed so poorly. If such a thing existed in 20th Century Ireland, I would assume Nobbs fell somewhere in the middle of the Autistic spectrum. As the story unfolds, it does little to enlighten the audience to the decisions Nobbs makes. With trite questions asked to a mirror and awkward questions asked to a peer, Nobbs never does provide any answers.
This is not Inception or Mullholland Dr. kind of confusion. After the viewing, my friends and I were agitated. Annoyed. We had to make up scenarios to fill in the blanks of the story. We wondered why we saw the movie in the first place…was it even worth the time? It was like having sex for two hours and getting nothing out it. Get it? Frustrating.
So. Glenn Close. First, how anyone could think that she was a man is beyond me. Maybe people in Ireland were suffering from nutritional blindness and did not see that a woman was wearing pants. Maybe the transformation of Glenn Close was hampered by her age — while beautiful as a 64 year old woman, she does not make a very handsome 45 year old man. What should be minute facial expressions instead come across as blank, emotionless stares. While I think this was a conscious decision, it makes Nobbs inaccessible to the audience. Sorry, but it was a fail.
I want to give a shout-out to Janet McTeer. She plays Mr.Page, who also finds that disguising herself as a man makes it easier to survive. I get the impression that unless you wanted to empty chamber pots or become a prostitute, there was not much else a woman could do. In complete contrast to Albert Nobbs, Mr.Page is an emotional, thoughtful man/woman who is living the life they have always wanted. I do think it was slightly poor casting for the production team to hire someone with such large breasts — it makes her head look tiny to try and hide those dirty pillows.
So much of Albert Nobbs was cringe-worthy. With a sad-clown main character, whose struggles with life and love are under-developed and unexplained, the movie falls short of enjoyable.
It took me a few weeks to even write this review because, quite honestly, I didn’t want to think about it. Even now, I am getting a slight anger-headache.
In conclusion, I say you avoid this movie. It was not Benjamin Button bad, but it is nowhere near as good, as say,The Decendants. Do yourself a favor and watch something else