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Jan 27, 2012
05:07 AMTalk about Arts
Movie Review: Albert Nobbs
Films opening this weekend:
Albert Nobbs - North Park Dipson
A Dangerous Method - Amherst Dipson
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos - The Screening Room Cafe Cinema - REVIEW
The Grey - Market Arcade; Maple Ridge; Transit, Elmwood, Hollywood Regals; Flix
Man on a Ledge - Maple Ridge; Transit, Elmwood, Hollywood Regals; Flix - REVIEW
One for the Money - Market Arcade; Maple Ridge; McKinley Mall Dipson; Transit, Elmwood, Hollywood Regals; Flix
I really enjoy films residing in the duplicitous limbo between aristocracy's flights of fancy and the laborers at their beck and call. Rodrigo García's Albert Nobbs is the latest of such endeavors, with the dark secret of a meek little man's identity resting alongside the petty constraints of social status within Morrison's Hotel's 19th century Dublin establishment.
Based on George Moore's 1918 novella "The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs", this glimpse behind the scenes of a posh hotel hides many more secrets than just that of its titular character. Between the indiscretions of waiters like Sean's (Mark Williams) goofy escapades to imbibe alcohol, maids like Mary (Maria Doyle Kennedy) sneaking off for late night trysts with Dr. Holloran (Brendan Gleeson), or guests like the Viscount Yarrell (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his boorish company engaging in unseemly actions behind closed doors, Mrs. Baker's (Pauline Collins) humble cove is unafraid of controversy as long as it doesn't prevent her pockets being lined. So it goes as no surprise that the most revered member of its band of eccentrics is discovered to be a woman. Yes, kindly Mr. Nobbs (Glenn Close) isn't a mister at all.
And for the first half of the movie, this revelation is little more than a detail lingering in the backs of our minds as we watch him/her go about the daily routines. He knows every regular guest's likes and dislikes and is humbly at anyone's service whenever they desire. Sean and the men look up to him while young Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska) appreciates what he stands for and the leeway given when running her mouth behind closed doors. But everything changes when a house painter by the name of Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) arrives and is offered to spend the night in Nobbs' quarters. Albert tries his best to deflect Mrs. Baker's veiled order to uphold these sleeping arrangements, too afraid his secret would be revealed.
To his surprise and dismay, however, Page too proves to be a woman hiding as a male to sustain a living in tough times. Married and in love—to a woman—she becomes an inspiration to Nobbs and a beacon illuminating the possibility for more than just the celibate life in fear he had been living. As you might imagine, as soon as these goals appear achievable they also become almost impossible to realize. Morrison's becomes a hotbed of tragedy and heartbreak as resolve is shattered and the end grows near. But all the while Albert Nobbs remains vigilant and steadfast in his quest for rebirth.
Nobbs is a role so nuanced that Glenn Close deserves any praise thrown her way. She embodies this character's sorrow so completely that his crescendos are powerful and his falls utterly devastating. Some plotlines will prove overly convenient, but such blemishes can be forgiven. Our hero's final, exhilarating loss of restraint shows that happiness was merely an oasis out of arm's reach until now. Knowing the dream is possible saves him from forever striving towards something he can never have.
Albert Nobbs 7/10 | ★ ★ ★
 Mia Wasikowska and Glenn Close in ALBERT NOBBS Photo credit: Patrick Redmond
 Aaron Johnson and Glenn Close in ALBERT NOBBS Photo credit: Patrick Redmond