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Albert Nobbs Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Archived Reviews' started by Matt Hough, May 8, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Matt Hough
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    There’s something inexorably sad about Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs. It’s not just the closed and rather desperate life the movie spends nearly two hours revealing, but there’s also a sense of overwhelming melancholy about all of the secrets which are bouncing around the central hotel setting and its environs in 19th century Ireland. Kindnesses are rarities, and chicanery and dishonor are as rampant as pebbles on the streets. The film has a fine sense of time and place, but its slow, cheerless story and langurous pace won’t be for every taste.

    Albert Nobbs (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Rodrigo Garcia

    Studio: Lionsgate
    Year: 2011
    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 113 minutes
    Rating: R
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
    Subtitles: SDH, Spanish

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 39.99

    Release Date: May 15, 2012

    Review Date: May 8, 2012

    The Film


    An orphan practically from birth, Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) has lived almost her entire life as a man. Working as a waiter at a somewhat second-rate hotel establishment Morrison’s and keeping to herself, Albert has been saving her tips for many years with the dream of one day buying a shop and setting up a tobacconist business. A painter named Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) reveals herself to Albert as a fellow woman in male disguise, and Albert is further astonished to learn that Hubert has a wife and a rather comfortable country life with her. Longing for a similar arrangement, Albert begins having thoughts of “stepping out” with lovely hotel maid Helen  (Mia Wasikowska), but she’s already being courted by the hotel’s rough-and-tumble handyman Joe (Aaron Johnson). Joe gets the idea that Helen can cajole presents and money out of Albert to finance their emigration to America, but when Helen finds herself pregnant, everyone’s plans seem to change.

    Bringing the story of Albert Nobbs to the screen has been a dream project of Glenn Close’s ever since she played the role off-Broadway in 1982. Now, almost three decades later, she’s not only starring but also serves as a producer and as a co-writer on the project with Gabriella Prekop and John Banville. There’s no denying her commitment to the story, but it’s a shame that such fervor didn’t find its way into making the tale just a bit more audience friendly. By not having Albert thinking through her own marriage arrangement with Helen (she plans on springing the revelation on their wedding night), viewers are trapped in seeing the film’s kindly and rather innocent protagonist doomed to failure and potential ruin. Albert is so tightly wound, and so, too, is the movie until the few scenes with the more worldly and gregarious Hubert occur. Director Rodrigo Garcia films the movie’s one real burst of happiness – a frolic on the beach with Albert and Hubert wearing dresses (that do them no favors sartorially and which make them look almost like aliens from another planet) – that is over far too soon. He also stages the set-up and serving in the dining room with intricate precision and counterbalances that with a fine and fun glimpse of the help around their own table for breakfast, the camaraderie of which will remind viewers of similar scenes in Downton Abbey. The film could have used much more humor to balance the tragic tone. The futility and certain doom of Albert’s plans hang over the film like the sword of Damocles almost forcing the viewer the stay at arm’s length to attempt to escape the foreboding inevitability of its ending.

    Glenn Close’s edgy, highly controlled performance is wonderfully realized, but Janet McTeer basically steals the movie away from her as the wonderfully ingratiating Hubert. Pauline Collins gets to preen up a storm as the calculating proprietor of Morrison’s while Brendan Gleeson as a kindly doctor staying on the premises makes a solid impression in a couple of key moments. As the lovers, both Mia Wasikowska and Aaron Johnson offer terrific performances as the lower class servants who want more from life. Maria Doyle Kennedy and Brenda Fricker don’t get to show much of what they can do as other hotel employees.

    Video Quality


    The film has been framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Overall, the image is splendid with a very sharp, detailed picture that only softens in deliberate moments of Albert’s fantasies. Color timing, although usually very good, is also a bit inconsistent occasionally causing flesh tones to drift toward pink and a blue-green tinge to sometimes hang over the imagery. Black levels are very good. The film has been divided into 16 chapters though there is no scene selection item on the main menu.

    Audio Quality


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix accomplishes a very good ambience on the film’s very tight budget. Brian Byrne’s music score has mostly been channeled to the front soundstage with the rears occasionally receiving ambient sounds like noises at a restaurant or the sound of rain beating down. Dialogue has been well recorded and has been placed in the center channel even if some of the Irish brogues may require some viewers to turn on the subtitles.

    Special Features


    The audio commentary is provided by director Rodrigo Garcia and star Glenn Close. For this being such a passion project for her, Glenn is strangely uncommunicative for great portions of the movie. It’s left for Garcia to find things to talk about with Close usually chiming in a few words at most in response to his thoughts. It’s a very low key commentary and something of a disappointment.

    There are three deleted scenes which are shown in 1080p and which run 8 ¼ minutes.

    The theatrical trailer is in 1080p and runs 2 ½ minutes.

    The promo trailers on the disc include Biutful, Circumstance, I Love You Phillip Morris, Margin Call, and Winter’s Bone.

    In Conclusion

    3.5/5 (not an average)

    Albert Nobbs is a melancholy tale told in rather remote fashion, but the account is so unusual and the acting so fine that fans of independent films might want to give it a rental. The picture and sound on the Blu-ray certainly show the film in its best possible light.

    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC


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