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Albert Nobbs

Albert Nobbs

Released 27 April 2012
Director Rodriga Garcia

Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Brendan Gleeson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Brenda Fricker, Pauline Collins, Aaron Johnson, Mia Wasikowska, Antonia Campbell-Hughes

Glenn Close, John Banville, Gabriella Prekop

Glenn Close, Bonnie Curtis, Julie Lynn, Alan Maloney
Origin United Kingdom, Ireland
Running Time 113 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 15A

It’s a man’s world.

Nicole Kidman in The Hours, Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar, the Wayans brothers in White Chicks; all victims of bad movie make-up. Who knows, maybe White Chicks would have been hilarious if it weren’t for the sadly distracting combination of bad wigs and make-up like uncooked dough. Pity poor Glenn Close then, who is the latest victim of a transformation as effective as setting one’s face in plaster of paris.

In Albert Nobbs, Close plays a woman posing as a man in order to get work in late 19th century Dublin. The scheme has been remarkably successful; she is a well respected butler in a hotel frequented by the upper classes of the city. Saving every penny she earns, she dreams of buying her own little business. When a handyman played by Janet McTeer comes to work at the hotel, Albert suddenly sees the possibility that she can find love as well as success and sets her sights on pretty co-worker Helen (Mia Wasikowska).

The plot of Albert Nobbs may deal with hidden desires and social prejudice but Boys Don’t Cry it ain’t. On the whole, it’s as hard hitting as a marshmallow; the kind of thing your granny might enjoy to watch on TV on a Sunday evening. The period setting is handsomely realised by director Rodrigo Garcia but underneath the gloss, it’s a pretty unremarkable film. The story arc is a little too bumpy as it veers from comedy to tragedy and the performances are distinctly uneven.

McTeer and Pauline Collins (as the mercenary hotel proprietress) are both solid but other (usually impressive) cast members noticeably struggle. Close’s face is all but immobile under the aforementioned thick layer of make-up. Granted, Albert’s personality is built upon a necessary emotional restraint but how this performance got a nod for a Best Actress Oscar is beyond me. Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson meanwhile are both felled by accents that wander back and forth across the Irish Sea.

The only time I perked up during Albert Nobbs was for some Dublin location eye spy. But if thinking “ooh it’s the Iveagh Gardens!” marks the highpoint of any film, it isn’t a good sign.

- Linda O’Brien