Based on the 1927 novella by George Moore, the film tells the story of a woman who's for decades disguised herself as a man to keep butler jobs at posh hotels throughout England and Ireland in an attempt to stay out of the poorhouse. But when a painter comes to work at the hotel, 'Albert' thinks she could perhaps drop the charade for something more.
Glenn Close may have received critical acclaim for her performance as the titular character, but I personally didn't find her very good. She was making it too obvious that she wasn't normal, through both her voice and mannerisms. So for nobody else to have ever given her--err, him--a second thought after decades of servitude wasn't believable. And to think we're let in on Albert's secret from the start and it's still strange. So Glenn's performance and approach was too strange for this to be believable.
The story is set in the nineteenth century, making gender roles a key issue in the film as it's supposed to explain why Albert has been unable to make it as a woman. However, when the head of the hotel is a woman too, then it begs the question whether Albert was just too comfortable with the charade to start anew, or perhaps Albert just wasn't that intelligent. For she references the fact that women can get jobs at tobacco counters without the issue of being married or not ever entering the equation. For there's nothing wrong with Albert that would prevent her from being herself and getting married. Granted the interim between the butler job and marriage would be tough, but considering that she laments giving up her feminism makes Albert's decision to continue with the charade all the stranger. For throughout the film you can tell she's trying to keep up an appearance rather than seamlessly living it.
And as if it couldn't get any weirder, when Albert meets a young hotel maid (Mia Wasikowska) who's seeking a regular relationship, Albert's naive enough to think that she'll go for her in marriage. Yet how Albert would explain actually being a woman, or why she thinks the maid will just accept that and go along with it is entirely unmentioned. It was the big elephant in the room. Granted Albert's friend Hubert (Janet McTeer) was playing the same charade with another woman, but said other woman was aware of it and went along with it because they were both old enough to understand the hardships they could be facing if they didn't keep up such a charade. But the difference between them and Albert is that their normal lives fell apart when they were older, whereas Albert's fell apart when she was still young enough to start anew.
Overall, the acting wasn't convincing on Glenn Close's part, the story logic was too strange, and the film was just all around boring. So take it from me, you should skip it and you'll be saving nearly 110 minutes of your life you couldn't get back.