Some of the most powerful moments in films are those with no dialogue and little action. It's in these moments that you can tell the difference between those hired to act in movies and those who really act.
Six-time Oscar nominee Glenn Close shows in "Albert Nobbs" her superlative acting skills by turning scenes -- where the camera just lingers on her face -- into emotionally explosive moments. In her eyes you see the pain, frustration, fear and hope that her character faces as she lives her life as a lie.
Close plays a woman in 19th-century Dublin who dresses up as a man to get work. She not only passes as a man, but she becomes proficient as a butler. Although she's living a dark secret, Nobbs is content to stay with the charade until she saves enough money to start a new life.
Complications arise when Nobbs begins to fall for another member of the hotel staff, the exquisite Helen (Mia Wasikowska). Nobbs is confused by the feelings as she long dismissed any idea that she could have a relationship. She only fully embraces the possibilities of love after letting down her guard to a painter (Janet McTeer) living the same kind of lie.
Close finds that delicate line of making Nobbs believable as a man and as a woman. She succeeds by underplaying moments, often resorting to silence to reveal the most about her character.
It's the kind of complicated and delicate role that earns Oscars, and Close deserves the nomination she received this week for the award.
The fact Close helped write the screenplay, based on the short story by George Moore, with John Banville gave her an additional avenue to create this memorable character. The story shows the happiness and despair that can come when a person finally finds the courage to expose his or her emotions.
"Albert Nobbs" is a quietly powerful film that works because of Close's skill. She breathes life into the character with such dignity that you will hang on every word that's not said.
"Albert Nobbs," rated R for language, sexuality and brief nudity. Stars Glenn Close, Janet McTeer, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Johnson. Directed by Rodrigo García. Running time: 113 minutes. Grade: B+ Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at email@example.com or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.