Albert Nobbs

  • Reviewed by: Barrie Maxwell
  • Review Date: Jun 10, 2012
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Director

Rodrigo Garcia

Release Date(s)

2011 (May 15, 2012)

Studio(s)

Lionsgate

Review

Based on Istvan Szabo's treatment of George Moore's story, Albert Nobbs has finally made its way to the screen through the efforts of actress Glenn Close and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, some 30 years after it first opened off Broadway in 1982.

Amazingly, Glenn Close's association with the title role in which she stars so impressively dates all the way back to that Broadway opening. It's a role that has stayed with her ever since. The story takes place in 19th century Ireland where Albert Nobbs, a woman who has survived by disguising herself as a man and becoming a waiter/butler. As the story begins, she is working at Morrison's, a Dublin hotel, where she has been for the past 17 years. At a time when the country was very poor, the incentive for people to stay out of the poorhouse was pervasive and Albert's solution to such a possibility is extreme indeed. So many years has she spent as a man, that she has essentially forgotten her own true identity, seemingly even her own real name. The details of Albert's life are sad indeed as we watch him/her guarding her hard-earned pennies intended to open her own business someday, all the time in worry that some failing in her work might cause loss of her job - a constant concern not only for her but for all her fellow workers. While the details of Albert's life make for a film of rather lamenting sadness, the rich collection of supporting characters in her world add amazing vignettes, particularly a painter (superbly played by Janet McTeer) who reveals himself not only to be a fellow woman in disguise, but one with a wife in the country - an inspiration for Albert to contemplate having a wife of his own in the person of an attractive young hotel maid (Mia Wasikowska). The film is dominated by Glenn Close's powerful and mesmerizing performance, and she's very ably backed up by the impressive supporting cast that includes the aforementioned McTeer and Wasikowska as well as the likes of Brendan Gleeson, Aaron Johnson, Pauline Collins, Brenda Fricker, and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. Albert Nobbs is truly something different and an experience that will rest in your mind long after the film is over. Fortunately, Lionsgate has now made it available to us on a very nice 2.35:1 Blu-ray presentation. The image excels in its definition of textures, whether they be facial features or hotel architecture. Black levels are very deep, imparting great depth of field and the film's mainly muted colour palette is consistently well-rendered. A few instances of softness apparent are stylistic photographic choices rather than any deficiencies of the transfer. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix delivers an impressive atmospheric ambience throughout, well balanced with the clear dialogue and Brian Byrne's subtly fine score. And don't miss his closing credit music for the song "Lay Your Head Down" performed by Irish recording artist Sinead O'Connor. English and Spanish subtitles are included. Disc extras are highlighted by a very informative audio commentary by Glenn Close and Rodrigo Garcia. There are also several deleted scenes and the film's original theatrical trailer. Highly recommended.

- Barrie Maxwell

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