When is comes to Glenn Close's latest film character Albert Nobbs, director Rodrigo Garcia put it best: "Even if he was a man, he would be unknowable."
Albert Nobbs served as the opener to the 34th Mill Valley Film Festival. After a screening at the Thursday night, Close and Garcia joined the audience and shared their experiences about making the movie.
"Glenn was born to play Nobbs," Garcia said, "or Nobbs was born so Glenn could play her."
The movie, based on a short story by George Moore, follows the butler Nobbs in 19th century Ireland who avoids poverty by dressing and working as a man.
Director of Programming Zoe Elton first noticed the movie in the Cannes Film Festival at the Irish booth back in May.
"I saw this man and then I realized it was Glenn Close," she told the audience. "I saw the movie, and my socks were knocked off."
After that, Elton began making calls to bring the movie to Marin. At first, it was not certain since the filmmakers were still looking for a distributor, but eventually everything worked out.
This is not a movie where the characters sit down and talk about their problems, Garcia said, noting that the key to the character is Close's subtly with Nobb's mysterious and tragic nature.
Nobbs is different to everyone. To Garcia, she is unknowable.
"She's a butler without a face," he said.
To Close, who co-wrote the screenplay, Nobbs is more of a tragic Charlie Chaplin.
"I always felt Albert was a clown," she said. "Her pants are too long. Her shoes are too big."
The filmmakers were still trying to figure Nobbs out in the first week of screening, where Close admits to some difficulty and awkwardness.
"I would think would she look up at someone. Should I have my eyes down?" she said about working the scenes.
In the short story, Nobbs was referred to as a "perhaps-er" but she longs for safety and connection, according to Close.
"Just like all of us," she said.
Before the show, Close and other filmmakers graced the red carpet at Mill Valley's Outdoor Art Club. Find a complete list of programming and purchase movie tickets for the 11-day festival on their website.