What I Saw: Albert Nobbs
In a powerful scene from Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close calls out a warning to Mia Wasikowska’s character: “He won't take you to America.”
It’s a factual statement, but more importantly it provides an insight into the soul of the title character and a commentary on keeping your expectations low that is informed by a lifetime of surviving under the radar.
In our era, the prevailing myth is that one should set one’s expectations high, and that everything is possible. Blockbuster movies sell us on the idea that true love will sweep us off our feet, that a pauper who works hard can become a world success, and that being oneself despite the odds always pays off. Albert (Glenn Close) knows better. From a young age, he dressed as a man in order to get a job as a waiter, dawning the clothes of another gender and another social class in order simply to survive. He speaks softly, and doesn’t draw attention to himself.
His world changes with the arrival of Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), and he begins to dream--but still only in very limited ways. He still can’t imagine himself running off to America, but thinks that maybe he can open a little shop to sell tobacco. He doesn’t fantasize about romantic love, but perhaps he can find a girl to help “serve at the counter.” Little dreams, for sure, but enough to be his undoing.
Glenn Close had a dream too. She thought that if she produced, wrote and starred in a cross-gendered period piece, she’d be a sure bet to win an Oscar. She even wrote a song, “Lay Your Head Down.” It wasn’t such a crazy dream. She’d seen Hubert Page other actresses do it before, and the Academy is famous for giving awards based upon a long career. But in the same way that Aaron Johnson is the true apple of her intended’s eye, so have filmgoers been raving over her co-star Janet McTeer (who really is great in this film). Maybe Glenn will have a better chance in a few years when she plays a supporting role in Therese Raquin.
Lead Actress: Glenn Close (currently ranked 4)
Supporting Actress: Janet McTeer (currently ranked 3)
Makeup: Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle (currently ranked 3)
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My Lamb Score: 2 out of 5 Lambs
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