Review~ An Engrossing Tale Of Heartache & Longing For A Happy Life, Glenn Close Is Superb; Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs, with Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson, Brendan Gleeson, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker & Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.  Rodrigo Garcia, director.  Prepare yourself for the comforting bleakness of Dublin in the 19th century & a bit of a shock at what some people do to survive.  I wasn’t quite sure what this was all about.  Exactly.  But I did have an idea that it would be satisfying in a way only Glenn Close could deliver.

Close is of surpassing excellence.  Actually, she has been my favorite actress since her role in Dangerous Liaisons.  If you don’t believe what you’re seeing at first, she will convince you, by the end.

Evidently, (& I wasn’t aware of this even slightly) some women during this period of poverty in urban Dublin, in order not to starve & die, passed for men in their employment.  I would imagine a lot of it had really nothing to do with sexual preference.  Strength of spirit, desperation & physical stamina were most likely the requirements for this deception.  In our “modern” times the reasons might be hard to comprehend here in Western Civilization; but in other parts of our world I’m sure it’s understood only too perfectly.

The setting is a small hotel in Dublin with a staff that is at once dysfunctional & amusing, as they are serious in their effort to remain employed.  To survive, people will do anything at times & this is arguably the moral of the film.

There are several themes in this film.  Two foremost are the dangerous love of youthful promises never to be kept & the longing for something newly discovered that could make one happy; though how to achieve it is a mystery & naivete, in the ways of the world, a hindrance.

Close is one such woman who masquerades as a man to survive.  Her character’s story is simple & so is her life.  That of earning her living & saving for her future.  Cloistered in the worlds of her employ she really doesn’t know or experience love & intimacy of any sort & knows nothing of it until the arrival of another “man”, played brilliantly by Janet McTeer, who (though not by intention) reveals to her possibilities that otherwise would have passed her by.

McTeer is as convincing in her role as Close.  Both must have thought long & hard how to present themselves in four dimensions.  They succeeded.  They are the true stars of this film.  Supported by Wasikowska & Johnson, portraying endearingly vacuous characters, important props.  Each emotionless as only the young can be, when they’re not over-acting.

What struck me hard in this film were the ruthless closeups of Close & McTeer.  Actually, the director didn’t rely on sets & decorations but on people for this well-acted drama.  Close’s face is entrancing, to say the least.

I don’t hear too much about her nowadays but we all should.  Close is a star of the highest caliber.

I recommend this film.  In extremis of talent, Close is by far the best actress of her day.  Far more talented than the latest female Academy Award winner (who I shall not name).  You’ll enjoy McTeer immensely.

Have at it!

2 responses

  1. I won’t miss this one!

    It was common practise for women seeking employment or wanting to do better for themselves to pretend to be men – Dr. James Barry is a case in point; interestingly, a wayward relative of mine who dressed up as a man in order to be a soldier and go to war against the ‘hated English’ during the Anglo Boer War! It was such a scandal in my family that she was removed from our family Bibles (where all births and deaths were recorded at the Cape of Good Hope at the time) – it was only recently that I rediscovered her!

    • Marvelous! How interesting! I’m sure she must have been quite a character. If only more could have been known about these people & their secret lives, lost in time.