Albert Nobbs works as the head butler for a fancy Irish hotel, circa the 19th century. She tends to the snobby guests without a hint of indignation. When her co-workers bitch and moan about the guests in private, Albert carries about her business dutifully, silently tidying up whatever needs tidying. At night, she stores her wages in the floorboards of her room. She sleeps, wakes up, dresses into a man, and start the process all over.
Soon enough (or rather, not soon enough), Albert is introduced to two people who throw a mix into her routine life. Hubert, a local painter, is the first to discover Albert's secret (mostly because she too conceals her real sexuality), while Helen, a young maid at the hotel, proves to be the awe of Albert’s world.
Now, forgive my repetitiveness, but like so many other films from 2011, Albert Nobbs is a film suited with strong material and even stronger performances, but its execution is flawed beyond belief.
As directed by Rodrigo García (who made the very haunting, very miraculous Nine Lives), Albert Nobbs is, by and large, a total bore. My plot description is more accurate then you may hope, as nothing really happens in the movie. There’s cleaning, there’s hiding, there’s whispering and yelling. Minor subplots are introduced then abandoned, interesting characters are ignored, and so on. In Albert Nobbs, we have yet another less than stellar film backboned with remarkable performances.
Both deliver some of the best performances of their careers, and they certainly deserve the Oscar nominations that will soon be coming their way. Mia Wasikowska also deserves special mention – as Helen, she proves yet again that she is one of the best young actors out there.
Even though the film picks up in its final act, delivering a pleasing finale that I wasn’t expecting, the movie as a whole isn’t nearly worthy of the performances in it. C-