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Glenn Close co-wrote the screenplay for and starred in this film directed by Rodrigo García based on the short story, The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs, by George Moore. A period drama set in 19th century Ireland that delicately tackles gender roles, gender identity and to a slightly lesser extent, but no less important, sapphic relationships, the driving force of this film is certainly the performance by Glenn Close. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role, her acting here is reserved, thoughtful, and commanding.
The story follows Albert Nobbs (Close) a woman who has been living her life in public for over two decades as a man in order to keep work (and for other reasons, to be revealed later on in the film) as a waiter and butler in some of Ireland’s most prestigious restaurants and hotels. Quietly saving up her money for the dream of owning her own business some day, Albert’s quiet life is thrown into a state of disruption when she meets another woman living as a man. The house painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) arrives and fires Albert’s imagination with the sort of life she can achieve. Seeing Hubert married to another woman and living a happy life, encourages Albert that she may find someone for herself.
Her life becomes evermore complicated when she decides to help and to court the young blonde maid Helen (Mia Wasikowska) who is already involved with the rogue of a handyman who is callous to her affections, but also convinces her to milk Albert of his earnings.
While the film is dominated by Close’s performance, the rest of the cast are not to be dismissed. In particular Janet McTeer, who also garnered a nomination from the Academy for Best Supporting Actress, is excellent as Albert’s moral patron of sorts. Everyone else is also spot on in what amounts to a comedy of manners as the backdrop to the serious emotional drama at the fore of Albert Nobbs.
Captured in high definition on the Red One MX cinematographic HD camera at 4.5K resolution, Albert Nobbs arrives on Blu-ray with a strong AVC 1080p transfer that has good textural detail, well extended into the background, a very good sense of dimensionality, and strong contrast. The image is clean, absent of any egregious digital artifacts or post-processing misdeeds as well.
There is nothing exceptional going on at all in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack. Ambience and atmospheric sound effects in the surround channels are at a rather low level, low frequencies are quite timid, and panning across the front three channels is mild at best. On the good side, dialogue is crystal clear and the balance of the score with the rest of the sounds is very good.
Lionsgate’s Albert Nobbs on Blu-ray is weak in the area of supplements, coming with only a single audio commentary, a brief run of deleted scenes and the original theatrical trailer.
- Commentary with Actor Glenn Close and Director Rodrigo García
- Deleted Scenes (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:16)
- Theatrical Trailer (2.35:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
The Definitive Word
A beautifully gentle and emotionally touching film that avoids obvious heart-string tugging or blatant political overtones, Albert Nobbs is mainly a film about the struggle with one’s identity and the search for love, wherever one may find it. The perfect casting, beautiful set design, and this strong Blu-ray release from Lionsgate make this one a winner.
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