Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is about a lesbian woman masquerading as a man. She works as a waiter in a hotel owns by the Mrs. Baker(Pauline Collins). Albert is a very stiff, tight lipped who does not emote easily or frequently. The movie starts out with the staff preparing for a party at which a viscount is staying. The guests file into the dinning room and take their places. The viscount comes in late with his entourage and they all noisily sit down to dinner. Later that night Albert is shining shoes and replacing them in front of the guests doors. The entourage loudly comes down the hall and goes to their rooms. Soon after that Albert goes to his bedroom and counts his money. It is clear Albert has been squirreling away money for a long time. He keeps it all under a loose floor board. After counting the money he pulls out a book and takes out a picture of a dark hair woman before blowing out the candles and going to sleep.
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The next Joseph Mackins (Aaron Johnson) is fired from another hotel at the request of a haughty patron. The man accidentally fell down the icy stairs and scratched the luggage and soiled the man's shoes. Unfairly fired the man goes around looking for work unsuccessfully.
At breakfast that day the staff of Morrison's is eating. Helen is talking about how she wants a man like the viscount who is rich and owns land. Emmy(Antonia Campbell-Hughes)
, another maid, says a man like the viscount will take advantage of a girl and then leave her high and dry. After breakfast Albert goes about his daily duties until Mrs. Baker tells him the painter, Hubert, will be bunking in his room for the night. Nobbs tries to get out of it but Baker will not let him. The Joseph Mackins happens apon a job at Morrison's as the boiler man. He is to fix the boiler before a costume party that is being thrown at the hotel. After some difficulty Mackins fixes the boiler.
Nobbs stalls as long as he can before going to bed. When in the bedroom he takes off his jacket but keeps his pants and shirt on. When a flea gets into his clothes and wakes him Albert jumps up and tries to take off his clothes. It is then revealed to Hubert that is a woman. Hubert promises to keep Albert's secret after Albert begs Hubert(Janet Mcteer) to keep it to himself.
Albert agrees to sleep on the floor and Hubert takes the bed.
In the morning the boiler man is washing up in the kitchen. Two women watch him sheepishly.
The next day Albert is out of it shaken up by his secret being reveled. He goes to find Hubert several times to talk and ensure his secret is safe. On one of those visits Hubert reveals that he is also a woman by showing Albert his breasts. This shakes Albert up further. During lunch Joe Mackins is introduced as a new employee and Helen and Emmy pick at each other. At tea time Albert finds Hubert and Hubert tells his story. He was married to an abusive man. One night he came home and kicked Hubert. After that Hubert left him and took his stuff. When asked if he was still married he says yes, to a woman named Cathleen.
When they meet again in the alley curious Albert asks more about Cathleen. Hubert and Cathleen lived together until people started to talk and then they got married. When Albert asks how Hubert managed to marry he says it was easy and Albert could do it himself.
Albert begins to dream of a different life. He dreams of a life with more than just a cot in a small room in a hotel. He continues to question the relationship between Cathleen and Hubert when he finds a stray button in his room.
Every prepares for the costume ball. During the ball Helen and Joe grow closer together. It is hinted at that Dr. Holleran(Brendan Gleeson), a permanent resident of the hotel, is sleeping with Mary(Maria Doyle Kennedy), a maid. Sean Casey (Mark Williams), a waiter, tries to resist and control his alcoholism. The viscount and one of his entourage, a man named Bunny, dance around in the dresses that are their costumes.
When Joe is shewed away from the party Helen(Mia Wasikowska) follows him outside where they kiss before she goes back inside. Albert watches all of this. Dr. Holloran asks Albert why he isn't in fancy dress and Albert tells him he is a waiter. The doctor says he is a doctor and they are both disguised as themselves.
That night Albert counts his money again and realizes he may have 600 pounds in 6 months.
The next morning while talking to Holloran it is revealed that Albert is thinking about purchasing a tobacco shop. The doctor asks Albert if he is thinking of taking a wife. Mary comes in and crisply serve Holloran his food. She is clearly upset over how Holloran was flirting with Mrs. Baker the night of the party.
Nobbs goes out that day to look at an empty shop that is for sale. He imagines the shop as it could be. He imagines him and his wife running it together. As collects tips he imagines what he can do for his wife monetarily.
In the evening he goes to visit Hubert and also to return a button. He is surprised that Hubert and his wife are so normal. They insist he stay for dinner. In the parlor while dinner is being prepared Albert and Hubert chat. Hubert suggests maybe Albert find a Cathleen of his own. Hubert asks for Albert's story. Albert was a bastard of noble birth and he was raised by a woman, Mrs. Nobbs, who was paid to raise him. Mrs. Nobbs knew who he was but did not give him any familial background. He was educated at a convent but after his mother died and the money stopped he had to leave the convent. He ended up living around rough indecent people. Mrs. Nobbs died when he was 14 and Albert was assaulted by a group of men. After the assault he found a hand me down suit and he found a job as a waiter. He continued to work all over the UK as a waiter. He had been doing the job ever since. At dinner Nobbs loosens up a bit even telling a joke over the meal.
After dinner the group teaches Albert to roll a cigarette. Hubert says he will need to know how to roll a cigarette if he is going to be a tobacconist.
In the cemetery Helen and Joe are walking. Joe is telling his story. He was an abused child. He only refrained from killing his father by thinking of hopping a boat and going to America. Helen and Joe kiss in the cemetery.
On the way back to Morrison's an old woman is admiring Nobbs in the horse drawn taxi.
In the stairwell after a party Nobbs asks Helen out put she refuses. That night Joe tells her to let Nobbs take her out and see how much money he has. She is surprised but the next day she does what she is told.
Helen is late for their date. They wander around awkwardly before Helen shows interest in a coffee shop. They awkwardly walk in and Helen admires some chocolates. Albert buys Helen two boxes of chocolates. On their way home Helen reveals that she worked in a drapers and lived in a room above the shop. Albert smiles and thinks that that fits well with his fantasy.
At home in his room Albert is counting his money. The chocolates were expensive and he is concerned about the cost. His fantasy of owning a shop and having a wife to run the counter encourages him to move forward, however.
In Joe's room Helen presents him with the box of chocolates. He asks her if that is it, as if expecting more. She says yes and he says she needs to get more next time and suggests that she get a bottle of whiskey. She protests but eventually agrees after Joe tells her he is going to get them out of the country and take them to America where he thinks he has better chances of being successful.
On their next date Albert takes Helen to the empty shop he had visited before and paints her a picture of what it could be like living and working there. She shrugs at his dreams. Helen storms off saying she spent her life trying to get out of places like that. She thanks him for the whiskey and the hat and leaves.
Back at the hotel Helen presents the whiskey to Joe who takes a swig and tells her that she will screw a couple of quid out of Albert next time she see's him. She is initially disagreeable. After Joe asks how she thinks they are going to get to America she she agrees and leaves.
She does not get her chance because Typhoid sweeps through the town killing an employee and making Albert sick. The hotel is put under quarantine at Mrs. Bakers displeasure.
During the outbreak Helen tells Joe she is pregnant and he reacts violently. After he calms down he tells her he will take care of her.
Later Albert is well he comes down for breakfast. He asks if everyone made it through the outbreak. He is especially interested in Helen's health. Helen is fine but Patrick, another employee, passed and so did a few hundred other towns people.
Alarmed Albert goes to visit Hubert. Seeing the black cloth covering the windows Albert is even more alarmed. He knocks but no one answers until he starts to walk away.
Hubert lets him in. He is mourning the lose of his wife. Albert suggests he and Hubert go into business together like Hubert and his wife were. Hubert is shocked to speechlessness. When he recovers he tells Albert that Cathleen was his world. Hubert takes Albert upstairs and shows him some of the dresses Cathleen had made. They put on the dresses and go outside. Walking along the beach Albert loses some of his inhibitions and start to run gayly along the shore until he falls and Hubert helps him up.
Back at Hubert's home the two men are back in their male clothes. Hubert tells Albert he only needs to be who he is and if he wants to find someone to be with he should do that.
Albert goes back to the hotel and seeks out Helen. When he finds her he hears Helen and Joe fighting. Instead of going in the room he goes to the kitchen where the cook asks him if he is alright. When he does not answer the cook tells him that Helen isn't worth it. The cook reveals that Helen is pregnant and Joe is a “waster” who will never take her to America.
Albert gets dressed in his finest clothes and takes Helen out to a park where he proposes to her. She refuses saying that she will not marry a man she had not kissed because a man who does not kiss her does not love her. She starts to storm off. Albert tells her that Joe will not take her with him to America and her and the baby will not be taken care of. She throws a fit hitting him but eventually she collapses into his arms. When it starts to snow she tells him so but he does not hear her.
She goes home. The patrons of the hotel start to return to Mrs. Baker's delight.
In the staff's quarters Joe comes to see Helen. He starts to tell her that he cannot take care of her and that he doesn't want to be like his father. Albert goes to her door and tells her that the offer is still open and repeats that Joe will not take care of her. A fight breaks out between Joe and Albert and Albert is knocked against a wall hitting his head hard. His ear starts to bleed. Quietly he goes to his room and lies on his bed.
Outside, Helen tells Joe she does not want him anymore and he leaves.
When everyone clears out Helen goes to Albert's door but he does not answer. He closes his eyes and drifts into his fantasy.
The next day Albert is not there to answer the doorbell as he does everyday and Helen goes up to his room to check on him. When he does not answer she opens his door to find him unresponsive. She runs and gets the doctor. He is dead and the doctor confirms it. The doctor also discovers that Nobb's was a woman. Holleran says he does not know how people can lead such miserable lives.
After the body is removed Mrs. Baker is rummaging through Nobbs' things and finds his notebook where he kept records of his money.
Afterward Hubert is talking to Mrs. Baker about Albert. The fact that he was a women was all over the papers. The doctor left the country with Mary the maid which is upsetting to Baker. Helen had her baby and is still working at the hotel. It is revealed that Mrs. Baker “came into a bit of money” and is using it to paint the whole hotel. Hubert is put up in Albert's room.
While in Albert's room the picture of Albert's mother falls into Hubert's line of vision. He picks it up and hears a baby crying through the open window. He goes out and sees Helen among the hung laundry. It is revealed that Mrs. Baker is blackmailing Helen to keep her working there for nothing. If she does not comply Baker will tell the priests who will take her baby, Albert Joseph, away. Hubert says “we can't let that happen can we.”
Best part of story, including ending:
I hate that Albert Nobbs dies at the end. He squirreled away money, overcame hardships, he even made a friends, and then he dies and someone else benefits from his hard work.
Best scene in story:
If I had a favorite scene it would the scene where Albert is fantasizing about the life he wants. He envisions the shop with his name on the window, a wife running the counter, and a room upstairs for the two of them.
Opinion about the main character:
I really like how Albert finally defends Helen at the end of the movie. I like that Albert finally comes out of his shell at that moment but unfortunately it leads to his death.