Man, remember when Glenn Close was beautiful and didn't have to desecrate that for the sake of her art? Yeah, me neither, and speaking of, "yeah, me neither", anyone heard of Janet McTeer? Well, you will remember her now, or at least you would, were it not for Glenn Close being so darn awesome, because although she's messing herself up like she always did, she makes up for it with powerful acting, so I suppose you could say that she was the original Cate Blanchett, especially with those cheek bones that are far from masculine. Actually, I think at this point, Cate Blanchett is the original Glenn Close, because she knocked out to dude role in "I'm Not There", four years ago, and now, I suppose Close is trying to one-up Blanchett by not just being a woman playing a man, but by being a woman playing a woman playing a man! Oh Glenn, you'll do anything for attention again, won't you dear? Well, I don't blame her, because somebody better start paying attention to her again, because she's still got it. Of course, it doesn't matter what she's got, not even this 64-year-old woman disguised, near-seamlessly, as a man can make this film terribly interesting.
When you hear about a film that centers on an older woman dress as a male waiter in 19th century Ireland, you're thinking that this is going to be one wacky ride, until you hear that it's a drama and think about what you had for breakfast before you think about what's going on in the film. Well, you don't have a lot to worry about, because there's not too much going on in the film to pay attention to in the first place. Seriously though, the film does drift along its hardly eventful and occasionally repetative storyline quietly and steadily with long periods of just "nothing", making disengagement a very real and fair frequent possibility. Well, as you would expect from hearing about a drama of this type, slowness plagues this storyline. Of course, that's not the only thing that taints this film's potential, as the film is also plagued with melodrama, not a bit of which is too terribly manipulative, but things do get a touch cheesy, particularly towards the end. However, even then, the film doesn't break, because no matter how slow or somewhat messy the film is, it is more than saved by one, single factor: ...The fact that I'm a critic and this is an arty film, so of course I have to love it. No, I kid, but even I wasn't, I picked the wrong film to be snobby about, because this thing seems to be an exception to that steretype that critics like all arty film, because this puppy got mixed review, much like many other Oscar push films of 2011, but just like those other films, this little number still has enough strength behind to make it ultimately enjoyable to me.
If nothing else keeps this film from being totally unengaging, then the production will certainly catch your eye, with makeup and sets really making the era, as well as the illusions set by some of our character, almost vividly believable, and it's all complimented by cinematography that's not extremely commendable, but has plenty of glowing moments that really breathe life into this world. Of course, if I could just cut to the chase, the real powers behind the film that really sell everything to you are the performers, especially our certain "female" leads. As much as I joke about Janet McTear being hardly known, she is a name that you really should take note of, because although she is upstaged by the more recognizable (to a degree) Glenn Close, McTear is all but upstaged by Close "only" because she's rather underused, but every time she does grace the screen, she brings a strong charm and presence that's so transformative and really sells you on her secret, and it certainly helps that who ever says that the makeup isn't terribly convincing on her is speaking some bull, because the disguise on her is almost more convincing than Close's. However, that's not to say that Glenn Close isn't convincing in her disguise, and "that" is not to say that the makeup is the only thing that sells the Albert Nobbs disguise, because Glenn Close gives a performance that's not only transformatively convincing, but genuinely excellent outside of the disguise aspect, as she has such a subtely emotional aura of compellingness that really absorbs you and gives you a genuine sense of tension that, at any moment, she'll slip up, blow her cover and have to deal with Aaron Johnson fiending after her, because we all know how ol' Curly Q here digs the older girls. Well, when his alternative is Mia Wasikowska, I think that even he's got to surrender to his own age ran. ...Oh wait, he's 21 and she's 22, so I guess there really is no stopping a cougar hunter. No, but seriously though, Close leads this film, as well as the challenge it presents, seemingly effortlessly, and watching her deliver one of the best performances of 2011, as far as women "and" actors go, is the key strength that makes this film worth watching.
When it's all said and done, the film is slowed down by a rather dull tone - complete with a lack of eventfulness, some repetion and moments of simply nothing going on - and the moments of melodrama aren't helping, but what picks things up and makes the film enjoyable is the lush production, but most of all, the strong performances, particularly that of Glenn Close, who's deliverance of such a powerful, transformative and often emotional performance that's worthy of making the shortlist of best female performances of the year leaves "Albert Nobbs" a quite respectable portrait on what a woman living in a man's world [b]"really"[/b] looks like.
3/5 - Good