DVD Review: Albert Nobbs
I liked this movie much more than I thought I would. Glenn Close got a much deserved Oscar nomination for playing a woman who has dressed like a man since she was a teenager because it was easier to find a job. So now she's just Albert. She's trying to save enough money to run a shop instead of working in a hotel, and guards her money carefully. Her world is upset when a Mr. Page (Janet McTeer) comes to paint the downstairs and is told to bunk with Albert. Sometime during the night Albert feels an insect under his shirt and has to open it up and Mr. Page sees her breasts and the jig is up. Albert is scared Mr. Page will give away the secret, but then we see Mr. Page's breasts too. All this happens so fast you start thinking every man is going to show you boobs, but that's it. Mr. Page actually has a wife, Cathleen, that fascinates Albert. He thinks he might be able to find a wife too to help keep the appearance of his life as a man. Eventually, typhoid runs through the city (London turn of the century) disrupting everything.
Albert is a terrific character - she's sad, a little pathetic, unendingly earnest and hopeful. She's second only to Janet McTeer's Mr. Page. McTeer definitely should have gotten a nomination for supporting actress, she's terrific. I buy her as a man much easier than you believe Glenn Close. She embodied the part - she lives in clothes that make her seem manish, has a wife, smokes, etc. She's reveling in being a man (though hardly distinguishable from a woman today!). The movie does try its best to keep actual sexuality out of the discussion. We do hear some stories that explain how their initial transitions happen, but not much about how they date/love/etc. now that it's been decades since they transitioned. One way they start to address the issue is when Albert decides he might like to get a wife too and asks Helen (Mia Wasikowska) to "go out walking", but doesn't get to the physical part of courting and is fairly put off when Helen initiates it. You can't tell if she's shocked, or just doesn't want to reveal her secret. An original story and a terrific cast made this a movie I can't stop thinking about.