2012-02-10 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

Albert Nobbs’ – Close Encounters With Cross-Dressing
By Robert Snyder

Movie master Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The mark of a good actor is the ability to do nothing well.”

Well, then, Glenn Close is a truly good actor. In the film, “Albert Nobbs,” where she plays a woman disguised as a man, she does almost nothing. In fact, as waiter Albert Nobbs in a late 19th Century Dublin “guesthouse,” she is near-invisible.

Which is actually the point.

During that era, it is far more profitable for a woman to earn a man’s wages. And also safer, since women often functioned under the constant threat of male violence. In contrast is another closeted cross dresser, house painter Hubert (Janet McTeer). She/he approaches maleness in a big, tough swaggering way. That is, Hubert draws attention to “himself,” even taking on a wife, Cathleen (Bronagh Gallagher).

Albert has dreams. He squirrels away his money in hopes of someday setting himself up in business with a tobacco shop.

Hubert introduces the idea of legitimacy through marriage, spurring Albert to woo pretty servant girl Helen (Mia Wasikowska).

The charade is encouraged by Helen’s blunt, hard-drinking boyfriend, Joe (Aaron Johnson), who “smells money” on Albert.

Co-written by Close, based on a George Moore short story, “Albert Nobbs” is a beautifully rendered performance film, with the star’s Chaplinesque portrayal providing a poignant stillness…the eye of the hurricane.

It is an eye that barely blinks. Yet, it reveals a tortured soul running toward salvation while standing still.

See “Albert Nobbs” and witness acting at its greatest.



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