Albert Nobbs

Mia Wasikowska and Glenn Close in 'Albert Nobbs.'

Delicate business is being transacted in this tight and engrossing drama of sexual identity. Set in 19th-century Ireland, the film focuses on a woman who passes as a male butler in a Dublin hotel just to survive. Glenn Close plays Albert with transcendent restraint. Close has a history with the role. She won an Obie for Simone Benmussa's 1982 off-Broadway play based on a story by George Moore. Her range, energy, originality, humor and intelligence merit serious Oscar attention. And then there's Janet McTeer, who is pure pow as Hubert, a house painter also passing as a man. There's a difference. Hubert has made a life for himself with a wife, while Albert stays closeted. It's Hubert who gives Albert the courage to court a hotel maid (Mia Wasikowska). As directed with grit and grace by Rodrigo García, this quietly devastating film goes bone-deep.

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From The Archives Issue 1146: December 22, 2011