Albert Nobbs (2011)
As part of my responsibility to serve my public in the best way I can, I noticed that Glenn Close had been given an Oscar nomination for her part of the eponymous Albert Nobbs here, so decided that I would see the film a couple of days prior to its general release (edit - the release was delayed, coming out instead in May 2012) here in the UK (its out this Friday) Having heard absolutely nothing about it (well done the marketing department) and having not gone out of my way to find opinion on the film, it was with some trepidation and the approving nods of Academy voters everywhere that I sat down with it.
Aside from the Commitment reunion taking place, the cast is littered with more recognisable faces than you can hurl a cask of Guinness at, all taking turns at throwing their performance cap in to a film that regularly impresses. The story of Albert is a tragic one, which I won't go into here, so as not to spoil it for you, but what you will know either beforehand or very shortly afterwards is that Albert (Glenn Close) is actually a woman, dressed for the past thirty years as a man in order to initially gain suitable employment in nineteenth century Ireland. Then it just stuck, really.
With only Albert knowing his/her true identity, it should come as no surprise that he/she is something of a loner. He/she has a room in the hotel where he/she works and is happy for the most part, saving money under the floorboards, with a simple dream of buying his/her own tobacconists shop and living happily ever after. It is not until he/she is forced to share his/her room with another man, a broad, bawdy painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), nearly a foot taller than himself/herself, that his/her innocent subterfuge starts to unravel.
The performances by the entire cast are excellent, as you would expect, given the talent on show. Apart from Close and McTeer, there are fine contributions primarily from Brendan Gleeson, Pauline Collins, Aaron Johnson and Mark Williams. But still they keep coming, Johnathan Rees Myers, Phyllida Law and Mia Wasikowska are all able support also.
It is testament to the power of the performances that when the moment comes for the two main characters to don frocks and bonnets, the viewer is put in mind of Matt Lucas and David Walliams on Brighton seafront, pretending in vain to be 'ladies'. Given the fact that they actually are and coming in at nearly ninety minutes into the film, you begin to really appreciate the skill Close and McTeer have here.
An enjoyable film with some great acting performances, impressive make-up and a simple but engaging story. The Direction is not unique or outstanding and this is probably what stops it from receiving a nomination for Best Picture, which I personally do not think it would have got a sniff of, even if it had been nominated. Nonetheless, I can imagine many less enjoyable ways to spend a couple of hours.