Glenn Close plays a woman in 19th-century Ireland who pretends to be a man so that she can work as a hotel butler.
Directed by Rodrigo García(R)
Glenn Close is “utterly preposterous” in the role that just landed her an Oscar nomination, said John Anderson in The Wall Street Journal. Playing a woman in 19th-century Ireland who for years has concealed her gender in order to work as a hotel butler, Close never convinces the viewer that anyone would have been deceived. Her tightly wound Albert Nobbs is also “a nearly complete blank,” said Noel Murray in the A.V. Club. Even when she meets a married cross-dresser and is inspired to begin courting a young waitress, we’re never allowed to know what Nobbs wants. Is she in love? Apparently not: For reasons that are left “frustratingly abstract,” Nobbs’s dream is merely to become a middle-class shopkeeper, complete with a wife. While fellow Oscar nominee Janet McTeer gives a “hearty performance” as the other male imposter, Close’s performance is subtler, said Claudia Puig in USA Today. We feel, at all times, Nobbs’s “unspoken terror at the prospect of being discovered.” Still, she’s less a human character than “a sad, clownish figure.” That makes it hard to care.