| Flicks

Flicks: Albert Nobbs & House of Pleasures

Posted on 26 January 2012 by LeslieM

By Dave Montalbano


Robin Williams took on his first serious role in The World According to Garp, though his costars Glenn Close and John Lithgow earned Best Supporting Oscar nominations. Lithgow portrayed Roberta Muldoon, an ex-NFL football player who became a transsexual. Thirty years later, Close has been nominated for best actress for Albert Nobbs, which explores the issues of sexual identity.

As the title character, Close portrays a woman who is identified as a skinny but reliable butler in 19th Century Ireland. Since it is not safe to be a single woman in that land, Nobbs blends into the scenery of an upper class household.

When handyman Hubert Page (Janet McTeer) takes on a job, Albert is forced to take in a roommate. This chance encounter forces the repressed Albert to think about other possibilities in living an authentic life.

With an attention to detail and a steady pace, Albert Nobbs is a thought-provoking movie in line with James Joyce’s short story, The Dead. A passion project produced by Close (who also co-wrote the theme song), this film captures the thin line between Irish tragedy and comedy.

With a strong ensemble cast, it shines with reliable performances. Upon first stereotypical appearances, both Close and Janet McTeer manage to invest audience empathy through nuanced performances. Both actresses have earned their actor’s kudos on the awards circuit.

Floating around at local art house cinemas is The House of Pleasures, writer/director Bertrand Bonello’s ode to the last brothel in Paris. A French film with English subtitles, House of Pleasures examines the business of lust. Like an employee primer, one is given a textbook procedure on how to seduce a person for cash.

Many characters cross the fine line between fantasy and reality in this film. One Madam scars her face into a permanent smile in a quest for eternal happiness. Both Albert Nobbs and House of Pleasures explore this fine line between fantasy and reality with stunning results.

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