Friday, January 27, 2012

Close Enough

OK, it's getting ridiculous now, the range of actress Glenn Close.

Is there any character that she can't, or won't, play?

Not satisfied with playing a wide range of women, Close is now branching out to the other gender---sort of.
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Close is now dazzling us in "Albert Nobbs," where she plays the title character: an attendant in a well-appointed 19th-Century Dublin hotel. The work has earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

But there's more to it. Nobbs is a woman disguised as a man. Yes, "Victor/Victoria" comes to mind, though "Nobbs" is no comedic farce.

The idea of one gender pretending to be another for some sort of personal gain isn't new, of course. Flat out comedies like "Some Like it Hot" to reflective films like "Yentl" have used the device.

But "Nobbs" is different. It's based on a short story by an Irish novelist, and according to a story in today's Free Press has been a passion of Close's since she won an Obie for playing the role in 1982.


Glenn Close as "Albert Nobbs", which earned her an Oscar nomination, her sixth


It's not enough to merely throw on the other sex's clothing, sit in a make-up chair for several hours and report to work on the set. Anyone can do that. Close's Oscar nomination is proof that she not only can look like a man, she can make an emotional connection to one as well.

The transgender role on film has often been equated with social outcast, and that's the same in "Nobbs." Albert isn't just playing dress-up, after all.

I first became aware of Glenn Close in 1983's "The Big Chill," where she played Kevin Kline's wife. Four years later, she terrified most men in the acclaimed thriller "Fatal Attraction."

Since then, Close has just about run the gamut when it comes to the women she's played, both from an emotional and historical standpoint.

So not satisfied with playing women any longer, looks like Close is setting her sights on playing men, though Albert Nobbs is a woman pretending to be a man. Still, for most of the film she is, for all intents and purposes, a man.

It can be argued that Close and Meryl Streep are the two greatest female actors in film today. It can also be argued that it's been that way for the better part of the past two decades.

But Close, despite five Oscar nominations prior to her latest one for "Albert Nobbs," has yet to win the gold statue. Streep has an astounding 17 Oscar nominations, including two wins.

Close is 64; Streep is 62. Their careers have virtually run parallel to each other.

But Meryl Streep hasn't played a man---yet.

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