Great Glenn Close received her sixth Oscar nomination for playing the title role of Albert Nobbs, a woman pretending to be a man in order to survive in the 19th century Ireland. When the project was announced Great Glenn fans all over the world (including yours truly) started to hope that this movie might be the ONE after all for her. As of now, it seems that it wasn't enough for Great Glenn to get enough votes for her Oscar. As a lifelong Great Glenn devotee, I still hope secretly that a Viola and Meryl vote split will help her stage that miraculous upset on Oscar night and she will get some real love from Oscar.
Albert Nobbs is said to be a boring, lifeless picture but I couldn't disagree more. I really enjoyed it, especially for the second time. The direction is nothing to write home about and neither is the story and the screenplay (it really annoyed me when Great Glenn was saying those cheesy life to herself). The acting, however, is just wonderful all around. Again many will disagree with me, but I think the ensemble was just fascinating. Janet McTeer gives a really strong performance, richly deserving of the nomination, but I have to emphasise Pauline Collins who's so wonderful in her role as the vicious and bitchy owner of the hotel. She was a clear highlight of the movie (for me, at least).
Great Glenn is so special for me. Although, like every sane person on this planet, I'm obsessed with her unforgettable and amazing performances in Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons, I'm equally impressed by her more quiet and less talked about works, just like the ones in The World accoring to Garp, Reversal of Fortune (her best performance, in my humble opinion) and most recently, her work on Albert Nobbs. As amazing as she is as Patty Hewes in Damages (and is she amazing in it!), I didn't feel very satisifed by the fact that she has to be on tv. Albert Nobbs was a comeback for her to the big screen and I hope that this Oscar nomination will lead to more great roles and a possible future win.
Albert Nobbs was a passion project for Great Glenn and what I admire most about this movie that it's not pushing her in the spotlight. She's of course the most important part of it but her role is surprisingly quiet and subtle. It's very different from the scheming and/or neurotic and/or psychotic women that people most like to see her play. I'm still stunned by the fact that people went on praising Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams for their transfromation, but very few people were raving about Great Glenn as Albert. She's just considered to give a dreary performance that got recognised because of who she is and the passion project factor.
However, there's me who doesn't stop being amazed by Great Glenn's fantastic talents as an actress and I'm saying right here and right now that this is quite probably the most beautiful, engaging and touching performance she's ever given. Her radiant "Great Glenn personality" is shining through the screen like never since her first feature film performance as Jenny Fields.
Great Glenn doesn't have many lines so she uses her body to her greatest advantage. She's so in control of herself without ever seeming to be too forced or calculated. If Albert Nobbs was a silent movie, I imagine she would be just as brilliant as Albert. Her whole story is written on Great Glenn's expressive, beautiful face. And she can communicate so many emotions just by using her eyes or mouth.
There are no huge breakdowns of Albert like the ones that Meryl got in The Iron Lady or teary-eyed monologues of her dead son, she doesn't get to play a movie icon or a tough hacker detective. Albert is a very reserved person, who's trapped inside her body and who's very uncertain about her own identity. I presume she still thinks of herself as a woman yet she considers Albert her real name. You don't get to break out of her own shell, but she becomes so close to it. There's so much beautiful hope inside this character that Great Glenn so wonderfully shows: it's such always a grand moment when we see her only counting her money and dreaming about that tobacco shop she's planning to open.
I was also stunned by the scenes where we get to see how wounded Albert is emotionally. A great example is when Hubert finds out that Albert's a woman and Great Glenn's desperately begging to her not to reveal her secret. We see her biggest fear come true and her humiliated reaction is incredibly heartbreaking.
It was an incredibly hard role to make very impressive for everyone (in that way, Great Glenn failed as it seems) because her of the lack of flashy, showy parts. The only scene where we get to see her crying last for like 15 second and yet it was an incredibly heartbreaking and almost cathartic moment for me. However, if you really ask me about the most breathtaking moment of the movie, it has to be her monologue about "how she invented herself" (Great Glenn can really nail these ones, right? :D ) It's a highly emotional, touching and delicate moment, which implies much more than it actually says. It's gutwrenching to really get to know Albert, only to find out that we had already suspected these things thanks to the wonderful and careful interpretation of Great Glenn. I would say that it has to be one of the most emotionally intense and heartwrenching scene of 2011.
It was amazing to see how wonderfully Great Glenn showed the doubts of Albert about herself, her personality and indentity. Her friendship with Hubert is a very safe point in her life and her realization of the fact that there is somebody like her is just brilliant. Out of the many touching scenes (how many times did I use this word in this review exactly?), her walk on the beach is one of the most luminous and effective ones. It's one of the rare moments when she can really be herself and let her emotions and feelings out. Her stumbling is a wonderful symbol of this being a very unfamiliar thing for her and Great Glenn portrays in such a wonderfully subtle way.
This performance is so incredibly rich that it would be incredibly difficult to mention all the things about her that impressed me. Her chemistry with Janet McTeer and Mia Wasikowska is incredible. With Mia and the hotel, it's much like a Father Goriot story for Great Glenn and I admit that they are not as strong as some of the other ones. They are, quite frankly, quite unorignial and cheesy, but Great Glenn wonderfully enlightens them with her wonderful presence.
It's really the scenes about Albert's personality that makes you totally amazed by her: her dreams, her hopes, her love and her doubts about herself. Although the ending of her story is no surprise, its not depressing or devastating at all, it's rather an uplifting, emotional and, I dare say, cathartic experience (at least for me, I don't see many people being amazed by her, how sad, really).
Although I agree that Great Glenn's performance as Albert is not her best work, and it doesn't have the totally mindblowing and disturbing effect of some of her other roles, it's a wonderfully touching and emotional performance. It may not give you a huge experience, it's like reading a chapter from a classic novel: inspiring, uplifting and beautiful in itself and more than serves its purpuse. A wonderful, unforgettable experience for me, given by a fascinating actress who's brilliant with or without Oscars.
What do you think?