In 'Albert Nobbs,' fine actresses go on a gender bender

In Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close plays a woman who passes as a man in 19th-century Ireland.

She's employed as a waiter in a stylish Dublin hotel, and no one realizes that the meek Albert has been hiding her sex since she was raped as a young orphan. Never having lived as a woman, the servant's quiet life is shaken when she is forced to share her room one night with Hubert (Janet McTeer), a "manly" house painter who it turns out also is a woman living in disguise. But Hubert has embraced the role, even living as a married man with another woman.

Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, Albert Nobbs is a small but affecting character study. Close, in her Oscar-nominated performance, nicely allows buttoned-up Albert to open up as she begins to dream of a life beyond the hotel, and McTeer — also Oscar-nominated — is terrific as Hubert, who has an exuberance for life that is a counterpoint to the servant's meekness.

Albert Nobbs retails for $27.98 or $39.99 Blu-ray.