Albert Nobbs

June 21, 2014


In what at first glance appears to be a film made to be Oscar-bait for everyone involved, Albert Nobbs transcends the boring historical fiction claptrap whose sole intention is to generate academy award nominations. It actually comes across as interesting, with barely a blip of mistaken pacing.


Mr. Nobbs, as the film viewer is aware, is actually a woman in Dublin, living and working inside a hotel, collecting a hefty amount of savings from wages and tips from the wealthy patrons to inevitably become an entrepreneur, entering into the bourgeoisie. The film, as a matter of fact, does not focus on this interesting intersection between the dying stratification of the gentry class that is paying for Mr. Nobbs to become the dominant social class, but it does hint at the quality of person one has to be in order to be bourgeois. For instance, we routinely see the lavishness of inherited privilege, as there seems to be a frequent amount of libertinism amongst the young adults of that class, unconcerned with propriety when compared with primal hedonism. The bourgeois-aspirant Nobbs, by contrast, daily collects his earnings and tallies it up, patiently and persistently waiting to enter into the business of tobacco product. Clandestinely, the film approbates the historical transition of the dynamics of society away from privileged-births to privileged-ethics – bourgeois ethics to be specific, where the sole virtues are savings, investment, and profit; all easier said than done, as whimsy and caprice often are ruinous to the cause.


Nevertheless, the mid 19th century society still prefers the labor and entrepreneurialism of a man over a woman. Hence Mr. Nobbs’ indefinite disguise – no woman would be allowed it would seem to purchase a shop to become a tobacconist. Is the chicanery susceptible to revelation? Absolutely, and it is perhaps one of the major stresses in Mr. Nobb’s life. It isn’t until his disguise is unraveled by a fellow woman acting as a male painter does his imaginativeness for a better life expand toward the direction of marriage.


But it is this focus on the possibility of upwardness that is assuredly taken for granted by the filmmakers as well as the audience. There are still limitations imposed, as just outlined with respect to gender respects with property rights. But those limitations can be worked around with the proper persistence and diligence – tried and true identifiers of the entrepreneurial who birth new industry, such as what Mr. Nobbs is intending to do.


Thus, while we can find sympathy with the difficulty that exists for those existing outside of the luxury of guaranteed incomes, scraping by anyway they can to keep their blood flowing, we must appreciate the unwritten tenacity of this tendency toward surviving, something that is completely unwelcomed and neglected by contemporary society, who resembles more the libertine inheritors than the ruddy and hearty survivalists that reflect a better form of the human condition’s will to power.


Grade: A



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