It seems that it’s all about these two nominated performances, when Albert Nobbs is being discussed, and hardly anything is being said about the film itself. Ok – Close’s approach is interesting, I had no problem accepting her as being accepted by others as a male. But it’s a very static performance, it doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s not only about the character being stuck. And McTeer is indeed very fine.
What I found to be quite intriguing, and ultimately disappointing, about AN was a kind of a gap between the correct, rather sedated, British tv drama feel it has about it and the thematic undercurrents in the material I kind of felt the film makers were not fully aware of. Because let’s face it, this is basically a penetration-phobic, post feminist corrective fantasy for rape victims with the most unreasonable happy ending coda. Here we have this smoothly operated matriarchal enclosed universe- headed by a female, populated mostly by females, in which the only men are a very old, shaky one, a poof, a woman pretending to be one and an impotent (the very alcoholic doctor who pleasure his lover orally). Even the outsider hired to paint is not threatening this order as it turns out. But once into this safe place a young, virile, sexually active male enters – hell breaks loose. And at the end, in order to get back to normality, this man must be gone, but not before he does the only thing males are good for, and that is being sperm donors. It’s a very simplistic, rather one sided take – even the patrons of this little hotel are strictly divided gender vise – the men are compassionless pigs, the women are kinder – and braver (the first clients to come back after the plaque were these old lady and her spinster daughter, the little boy is disturbingly studying Albert while his sister seems to accept him, their father has no empathy for anyone when they leave while his wife caringly looks back, not to mention Jonathan Rhys Meyers who’s in it just for his ability to look utterly decadent). But with all this potentially disturbing, subversive, objectionable, even kinky stuff, what we got was this very polite, respectful, star showcase wannabe. I didn’t suffer watching it, but I hardly admired it too.