BBC2: PREMIERE Tuesday 29 December, 10.40pm
Glenn Close is 19th century Dublin hotel waiter Albert Nobbs, who keeps himself pretty much to himself. Because, of course, he’s a she. Needs must when times are hard and jobs are scarce. “I think you’re the strangest man I’ve ever met,” says Albert’s kitchen maid colleague, Mia Wasikowska. Looking here like Wilfrid Brambell circa A Hard Day’s Night, Glenn Close co-wrote and produced this stuffy drama which could qualify, I suppose, as an anti-vanity project.
Unrecognisable from Fatal Attraction’s bunny-boiler, Close is stifled, like all the other reputable cast members, by a mawkish, stodgily theatrical piece (previously an off-Broadway play in 1982) that has awards-courting ‘prestige’ stamped all over it, from burnished production design to prissily insistent music score. It’s neither as compelling nor as convincing as Maggie Greenwald’s frontier drama The Ballad of Little Jo, in which Suzy Amis passed herself as a man in a far harsher landscape than the one fawned over at length here.