Movie Review: Albert Nobbs

I hate to write this, but Albert Nobbs was a flop. Every bit of it: plot, characters, acting, you name it.

First and foremost, Glenn Close played Glenn Close in this movie. I didn’t see a character, a man or even a woman masquerading as a man, the entire point of the film. I saw Glenn Close on screen, with faint hints of Sarah Cooper, Close’s character from The Big Chill. The voice was clearly a woman’s/faux-man’s voice and couldn’t fool anybody. Close’s hair was good, in only that the short cut really looked like her own hair, which it wasn’t. But Close’s feminine lips, eyes and smile lines thoroughly overshadowed the Nobbs character.

Secondly…well, this is a whole litany of points: This movie was so weak in its portrayal of lesbians and transgender people that I can only write this review haltingly. Close co-wrote the screenplay with John Banville and Gabriella Prekop and, while I do not know the sexual orientation or identity of these folks, I really feel that the LGBT community shouldn’t tolerate such weak portrayals of us or our history.

The underlying premise of the movie is correct: in the 1800s women had little to no independence and there wasn’t any tolerance for open homosexuality. I’m sure that many people lived closeted lives either as homosexuals trying to lead a heterosexual life, with same-sex “roommates” or as cross-dressers, but the plot of Abert Nobbs was just weakly developed.

If you read the online summaries of the movie, you’ll get the best of it.

SPOILER ALERT

And we have to stop killing off the gay characters at the end of the movie! Lesbians are not always killed by the boyfriend of the woman we’re in love with. Some of us grow well into old age and die of other causes, for crying out loud.

And the twist at the end? By having Albert’s also-cross-dressing friend connect with the woman Nobbs was in love with left me with absolutely no characters with which to identify or even like in this movie.

Okay, but there must have been some good parts to the movie, yes? Well, yes, three to be exact. It was excellent to see Jonathan Rhys Myers (#1) and the natural beauty of Maria Doyle Kennedy (#2) on the screen. And Sinead O’Conner’s (#3) soundtrack song of “Lay Your Head Down” was really worth downloading. Interestingly, Glenn Close wrote the lyrics to the song, so I give her props for that.

Reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes are hovering around 50% for Albert Nobbs. Other reviewers express confusion or ambiguity about the plot and characters. The good reviews mostly focus on Close and seem to come from acolytes. While I’m normally a fan of Glenn Close, this movie just didn’t do it for me, giving Albert Nobbs 2 out of 5 stars on this scale:

1 – Just awful

2 – Sort of not good

3 – Neutral

4 – Many good qualities

5 – Stellar

 

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