If you haven’t seen “Albert Nobbs” yet, Glenn Close’s performance is the reason to do so. She’s haunting, with the terror and yearning you can see in her eyes, those windows to the poor soul hidden beneath her carefully-controlled mask of a face. Close’s remarkable achievement in portraying a woman passing as a man in “Albert Nobbs” is absolutely worthy of the Best Actress accolades she’ll receive at AARP’s 11th Annual Movies for Grownups Awards this week. Even in a strong year for performances by lead film actresses — Viola Davis and Meryl Streep among them — her characterization stands out as destined to be remembered.
Is Albert gay, straight, asexual? We’re not sure. “I’m not sure Albert knows,” as costar Janet McTeer puts it. “Albert is a damaged human being.”
Close and McTeer (a runner up to Vanessa Redgrave in “Coriolanis” in Our Movies for Grownups Supporting Actress category), are jubilant about the attention “Albert Nobbs” is getting thanks to their critical huzzahs and awards attention. Both actresses are in the running for Academy Awards. “I’m so proud of Glenn. It took her hundreds of years to get this off the ground, you know, and the fact she did it with such grace, such collaboration — she never got dictatorial or possessive about it,” McTeer tells me. Close first played the role of Albert Nobbs some 30 years ago onstage, you may recall, and the film version has been her long-time labor of love. “We just kept waiting for funding. Truthfully,” says McTeer, “I think we started filming before we got the money. It was a hard slog.”