Albert Nobbs

I went to a conference a few weeks ago where one of the presenters was a transvestite. I was trying to focus on what the person was saying but there were all these little, slightly off things that kept drawing me to the fact that she was a he. I found myself thinking about this person while watching Albert Nobbs, the latest (and I hope last) Oscar entry to occupy our local bijou.

Albert Nobbs doesn’t have this distraction, fortunately, since you know it’s Glenn Close and she’s supposed to be a woman dressed as a man. It doesn’t really work as drag per se, any more than the aforementioned presenter, but it works as drama.

This is a quirky little story of a woman who dresses as a man to serve in the (presumably more lucrative) manservant industry of 19th century Ireland, and who comes to dream of a life where she lives with the fetching young Mia Wasikowski (Tim Burton’s Alice thingy), for which she almost has the money saved.

The cute part being Nobbs’s complete (and almost male) inability to grasp the nuances of courtship, while Mia is being more than aggressively pursued (and conquered) by Aaron Johnson (the eponymous Kick-Ass, having had a kind of macho/bad-boy makeover).

It’s not a bad movie, but it’s not great either. Good acting, with Brendan Gleeson and a bunch of other English actors you’ll recognize. Glenn Close has a script credit.

I suppose the premise is plausible. I think back to that presenter, and it’s not like anyone stormed the stage yelling “You’re no woman!” (‘course, maybe I’m the only one who noticed.) Semi-interesting as a premise, although men are shown to be at the root of all lesbianism, or something.

I think the biggest negative about this film is that it’s part of this line of films that are released for Oscar consideration that nobody ever considers whether they’re good or not. If a film has a particular pedigree, and won’t bank any money, they release it at the end of the year and clamor for awards.

It’s an approach, I guess, but it’s also kind of a sham. It’s as though Hollywood is saying, “The rest of the year, we turn out crap. Here’s the good stuff you cretins can’t appreciate it.” With no actual consideration of quality.

This year’s batch has been a big pile of mediocrity. Nobbs is one of the better films, probably, but it’s just passable. The Boy was tepid toward it, not displeased though he also saw through the drag easily.

It was either this or The Iron Lady and that seems like it would be an even more ostentatious sort of drag. (When liberals dress up as conservatives.) So I think we made the right choice.

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