A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Albert Nobbs is a drama about a 19th-century woman (Glenn Close) who's forced to dress as a man to keep a job. It's a sad story about sexual politics, and there's some violence, notably a fight in which a fatal blow is delivered. Viewers will also see a little blood and some dead bodies, due to an outbreak of typhoid fever. Sexuality is an issue; topless women are shown, and sex is suggested. Language is sparse but includes "f--k" and the Irish equivalent, "fecking." The characters work in a hotel where drinking is prevalent, especially at dinner or parties. One character is a humorously depicted drunk who wakes up to painful hangovers. It's unlikely that kids will want to see this despite Close's excellent performance, but if they're interested, some older teens might be ready for the content.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is a quiet little waiter in a fancy hotel in 19th-century Ireland. He's learned to stay in the background, and for good reason: He's really a woman. But when another woman masquerading as a man, Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), comes by the hotel to do some repairs, "Albert" is fascinated. She becomes intrigued by the idea of a richer life and starts formulating a plan to use her life savings to open a tobacco shop. Her plans also include marrying the pretty young Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska). But unfortunately, Helen has a secret boyfriend who's intent on milking Albert for all he's worth.
Is it any good?
Close's performance is quite touching, as is McTeer's. In the 1980s, Close was nominated for five Oscars (The Natural, Fatal Attraction, etc.) but never won. But with ALBERT NOBBS, she has cooked up a formula irresistible to Academy voters: She's acting in drag as a man and also performing with an Irish accent. But whether or not you think the role is calculated to be awards bait, Close is a skilled actress.
That said, the movie uses some tired plot devices to give Albert something to do, and it relies on its characters being terribly naïve while the audience is two jumps ahead of them. But when Close simply has something to think about or react to, she's magnetic. Director Rodrigo Garcia (Mother and Child) has shown an impeccable talent for women's pictures, and his sensitivity to Albert's plight is tangible.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's sexual politics. Why weren't women capable of working during the time in which the movie takes place? How did such thinking come about? Have we moved away from that thinking today?
How does the movie portray sex and relationships? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these subjects.
What has "Albert" sacrificed in order to work as a man? What has s/he gained?
- In theaters: December 21, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: May 15, 2012
- Cast: Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Mia Wasikowska
- Director: Rodrigo Garcia
- Studio: Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some sexuality, brief nudity and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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