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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Transvestite comes off awkward

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) sits awkwardly next to Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), the object of his affection. Nobbs worries throughout the film when to reveal he is a woman. 
Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions
Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) sits awkwardly next to Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), the object of his affection. Nobbs worries throughout the film when to reveal he is a woman. Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Albert Nobbs is an awkward man, and he lends his name to an awkward movie.

At the start of the film, Nobbs (Glenn Close) is a woman who has been living as a man for 30 years as a part of a hotel staff. His world is turned upside down when Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) comes to paint the hotel and not only discovers Nobbs is a woman but reveals that Page himself is also a woman. Nobbs’ world is turned upside down again when he becomes involved in a love triangle with Joe Mackins (Aaron Johnson) and Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska). Close and McTeer have received Academy Award nominations for their roles, and the film received a nomination for its makeup.

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) sits awkwardly next to Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), the object of his affection. Nobbs worries throughout the film when to reveal he is a woman.
Photo courtesy Roadside Attractions

It should also win an award for Most Awkward Film.

Albert Nobbs doesn’t make a graceful transition to the screen. A few aggressive sexual shots were probably raunchier than they could have been onstage, but the movie doesn’t add to the story or interpret it creatively. Camera angles are tame and not used to help tell the story. The performances are good but won’t knock socks off. All else is equal, and if all else is equal, a play is better.

Going further, a book is probably best (all interpretations are based on The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs by George Moore).

Stage plays like Doubt, or original movies with one setting that could easily have been stage plays like Reservoir Dogs, can certainly become good movies. However, these movies have an incredible, inherent intensity in their scripts, and Albert Nobbs’ incredible, inherent awkwardness doesn’t work.

Director Rodrigo Garcia could have played with colors or sounds or shot it so that Nobbs wasn’t clearly a woman, but he may as well have taken a camera to a stage performance.

To clear the air, Close deserves accolades for her work in Albert Nobbs. She played the role onstage in 1982 and has been trying to push the film through for the past 15 years. She also produced the movie.

Her depiction of Nobbs is awkward but believable. The entire film is awkward but believable. It seems to strike the chord it’s aiming for, but why was it aiming for that chord? The movie isn’t uplifting, and it isn’t stimulating on any base level. The film is tragic and sad throughout and doesn’t have the overt aesthetic value of other recent tragedies such as The Dark Knight or Black Swan. It’s just a downer.

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