Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-08-20
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Gay in the Life: Richard Biasi Gay in the Life: Richard Biasi
Just two years ago, Richard Biasi started crafting bowties from recycled vintage ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Knight at the Movies: Albert Nobbs; Tomboy; film note
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times
2012-01-25

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Glenn Close first played the character of Albert Nobbs—a woman passing herself off as a man working as a waiter in a hotel in 19th-century Dublin—20 years ago in an off-Broadway production. She has worked on getting a film version made ever since and because of her tenacity that the movie has finally arrived. The timing dovetails nicely with a trend that seems to be happening in indie cinema: an increased focus on the fluidity of sexual identity. Both Albert Nobbs and the French-made Tomboy (also opening this Friday in Chicago at the Music Box) are marvelous films that incorporate these questions into the heart of their storylines.

On one level, Albert Nobbs has the typical pleasures of all Upstairs/Downstairs type stories (like the current rage Downton Abbey) with servants gossiping about their wealthy, persnickety employers or, in this case, the guests of Morrison's Hotel, the small, fancy residential inn presided over by Mrs. Baker (Pauline Collins). In that sense the movie is a sort of Victorian-era Separate Tables.

Mrs. Baker, tough and unforgiving, dotes on the fussy, detailed work ethic of her taciturn head waiter, Albert, who she allows to handle her more difficult guests. Mrs. Baker has an eye for the handsome rake Viscount Yarrell (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and his lusty companions, while relying on the advice of longtime resident Dr. Holloran (Brendan Gleeson). Meanwhile, pretty Helen Dawes (Mia Wasikowska), one of the maids, falls hard for the studly Joe (Aaron Johnson), a big piece of man-candy with a bad temper who Mrs. Baker hires in a moment of weakness as a handyman.

Albert observes this and more but keeps to himself. Then, the arrival of Hubert Page (Janet McTeer)—who works at the hotel temporarily as a painter and who accidentally learns Albert's secret and then reveals his own gender-bending secret—deepens both the movie and Albert's life. Albert has been dreaming of opening a tobacconist's shop with his life savings. During a visit to Mr. Page's home he is shocked to discover that Page's "wife" is, in fact, a real woman. "She's real!" Albert gasps, startled at a world of possibilities he has never before imagined. After a gorgeously delivered monologue in which he reveals his past, Albert quietly tells Hubert that "life without decency is unbearable" and, taking that maxim to heart, becomes fixated on the idea of pretty Helen becoming his wife. Albert's enlarged fantasy and further plot complications then set into play a tragedy that takes on lyrical proportions as it reaches its conclusion in the adaptation co-scripted by Close and Irish novelist John Banville.

Close and McTeer's performances are easily dismissed as acting tricks—made or broken by their ability to convince you of the reality of them as men rather than drag kings. Within the context of the movie's period in which appearances and one's station in life really could deceive, however, it's easy to believe these women could fool the world around them. The sequence when the two dress up in long gowns and bonnets and gawkily walk about the seaside is all the more wondrous for the level of complexity the actresses bring to the scene—a mixture of unease, remembered familiarity and, finally, exuberance.

McTeer has the much flashier, more memorable part and is, as usual, a pleasure to watch but there's a lot to be said for Close's willingness to remain within the parameters of her character. The role does not provide a single showy moment, which makes the character's revealing monologue all that much more dazzling. The close-mouthed Albert, with his huge interior life, is a psychological cousin to Heath Ledger's Ennis in Brokeback Mountain—and Close's work is no less sensational than his. Other elements—the spot-on production design and costumes, the cast of distinguished Irish actors and Brian Bryne's elegiac score (which concludes with a mournful ballad sung by Sinead O'Connor), all under the director of Rodrigo Garcia—aid Close in beautifully realizing her dream of bringing the multilayered Albert Nobbs so vividly and entertainingly to life.

French writer-director Celine Sciamma follows up her insightful 2007 lesbian teenage romance Water Lilies with Tomboy, another treatise on budding sexuality, this time focusing on 10-year-old Laure (played by the amazing and fearless child actress Zoe Heran). Laure has just moved with her family to a new town on the outskirts of Paris. She meets Lisa (Jeanne Disson) in the apartment building where the family has moved and soon the new friends are playing a game of capture the flag in a wooded area near the building with other kids from the neighborhood. Sciamma, in an unforced manner, establishes an idyllic childhood—new home, loving family, new friends—that is almost palpable.

Laure—with her short haircut and dressed in shorts, T-shirts and gym shoes—has, seemingly without conscious thought, introduced herself as a boy named Mikael to her new friends and they accept her as Mikael. The secret of Laure's anatomic gender only seems to become a problem as the friendships and Lisa's budding romantic interest in her new friend grows. As gender problems have arisen during the days that follow, Laure has come up with simple or creative solutions to get around them. (Invited to go swimming, she simply cuts off the top of her girl's bathing suit and fashions herself a penis out of her sister's Play-Doh.)

Each time Laure passes one of these self-imposed tests, our fear for the child is tremendous. At times, the movie is like a prepubescent version of Boys Don't Cry and you're terrified about what the reaction will be when the truth is discovered. But what exactly is that truth? Neither Sciamma nor her young leading character obviously knows that just yet.

Nor do we. We're not sure if we're seeing a budding lesbian, transgender male or a heterosexual girl who truly is just a tomboy and nothing else. In presenting an open-ended viewpoint, Sciamma gives us something that feels much closer to reality and her low-key approach to such a seemingly complex topic really illuminates the subject in both very basic and rather profound ways. This—along with her facility with actors, especially the children—is a marvel to behold. Tomboy is terrific.

Film note:

—Pedro Almodovar—Spain's pre-eminent queer writer-director—returns to form with his latest film seduction, The Skin I Live In, which also marks the return of Antonio Banderas (after a 21-year absence) to his stable. The movie, an omnisexual mystery thriller, taking its cues from Hitchcock and the French classic Eyes Without a Face, is playing a return theatrical engagement at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., beginning Friday, Jan. 27. www.siskelfilmcenter.org

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitymediagroup.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily
agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here.
Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you
stay on this page, the more you help us.

Knight at the Movies: The Dog; The Giver; film note 2014-08-19
Gay superhero event touches on gender stereotypes, diversity 2014-08-19
'Orange' wins Creative Emmys 2014-08-17
Film about George Takei to screen at Facets 2014-08-16
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Iconic actress Lauren Bacall dies at 89 2014-08-13
Lesbian drama 'Anatomy' on Vimeo 2014-08-13
Jena Malone and Lem Jay Ignacio in 'Shoe' business 2014-08-12
Knight at the Movies: Into the Storm; film notes 2014-08-11
Reeling announces line-up of LGBT films 2014-08-08
Knight at the Movies: Violette; The Hundred-Foot Journey 2014-08-06
Jennifer Hudson on family; Turing subject of film 2014-08-05
Wachowskis host TransLife Center benefit at film studio 2014-08-03
Joan Jett's honor; Nathan Lane's point; 'True Blood' 2014-07-30
Knight at the Movies: Marvel's Guardians...; Lucy; film notes 2014-07-30
Agnes Moorehead to get her due at NRHOF ceremony 2014-07-30
Wachowskis to open studio to benefit TransLife Center 2014-07-30
Knight at the Movies: And So It Goes; film notes 2014-07-23
The Bijou Chronicles Steven Toushin: Matt Revira 2014-07-23
Dustin Lance Black plane scare; Quinto movie news; NeNe vs. Wendy 2014-07-22
GLAAD's Vito Russo Test: Offensive film content from largest studios 2014-07-22
Film about adoption premieres at Center 2014-07-16
Laverne Cox on 'FREE CECE,' kids and uniting LGBTs 2014-07-16
Lisa Whelchel sets the 'Facts' straight with new movie 2014-07-15
UN music video for gay rights Exceeds One Million Views 2014-07-15
The White Room with Laura Chernicky at Gene Siskel July 16 2014-07-14
NUNN ON ONE Fred Willard returns to Second City 2014-07-14
The White Room film heads to the Gene Siskel Film Center 2014-07-11
Movie festival gives voice, vision to Black LGBTQ filmmakers 2014-07-09
Knight at the Movies: The Nance; film notes 2014-07-08
Truth In Progress launches kickstarter campaign for film 2014-07-07
Film highlights Birth Certificate Access Law 2014-07-03
Pride Films/Plays: LezFest: A One Night Fling July 28 2014-07-03
Burger King unveils film celebrating self-expression 2014-07-02
Knight at the Movies: Tammy; All Night Long; Gore Vidal 2014-07-02
'Normal Heart' DVD out on Aug. 26 2014-07-02
Patrik-Ian Polk's Blackbird screening at local film festival 2014-07-02
George Takei: On Trump, Stern and 'Oh, my!' 2014-07-02
Reeling set for in Sept.; call for entries 2014-07-02
Hollywood luminary talks lesbians, drag and Uma Thurman 2014-07-02





Copyright © 2014 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 



 

Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey on touring and Howard Jones
 
Kiss of 'Meth' Writer/performer Strafford on play on addiction
 
Honors roll in for UIC researcher
 
Israel LGBTQ leaders discuss history, state of movement
 
Gay in the Life: Richard Biasi
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.