Corsage

A fictional account of one year in the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. On Christmas Eve 1877, Elisabeth, once idolized for her beauty, turns 40 and is officially deemed an old woman; she starts trying to maintain her public image.

  • Released: 2022-07-07
  • Runtime: 113 minutes
  • Genre: Drama, History
  • Stars: Vicky Krieps, Florian Teichtmeister, Katharina Lorenz, Jeanne Werner, Alma Hasun, Finnegan Oldfield, Manuel Rubey, Aaron Friesz, Tamás Lengyel, Ivana Urban, Alexander Pschill, Raphael Nicholas, Rosa Hajjaj, Lilly Marie Tschörtner, May Garzon, Norman Hacker, Marlene Hauser, Adrien Papritz, Oliver Rosskopf, Peter Faerber
  • Director: Marie Kreutzer
 Comments
  • statuskuo - 11 January 2023
    The Gilded Cage
    Following on the coattails of "Spencer" here is another flick about the royal rich who cage their women. Is this a female empowerment film? Depends on how you view it. It is somewhat of a horror film. Similar to "Spencer" this takes place around Christmas, which is when the duties of the Lady of the manor is magnified.

    The historical part of this is very vague to me. As an American, I know very little of Austrian royalty. Supposedly much has been made of Elizabeth (Sissi), Empress of Austria in Euro cinema. She was, as I've followed up on the facts, kind of a jerk. She was image conscience and very difficult when it came to people beneath her. You could aim that towards her status of being royalty. But probably that she was bi-polar or some other mental illness which caused her erratic behavior.

    A little of this is seen, as I believe the director, Marie Kreutzer, decided to focus on her mundane life. Someone who has everything done for her is bound to lack purpose. In this, she is played by Vicki Krieps. A square jawed Meryl Streep. Her phenomenal performance to embody this woman is really great. Given her politics, I doubt Hollywood would reward her for it.

    She is a bit embittered of her lack of things to do around the house. Her husband, Emperor Franz (Florian Teichmeister) seems so confused by why she would be so dissatisfied with life, as we are all thinking. But the reality is the boredom of Empress-dom.

    I like how they constructed this film to feel claustrophobic. "Spencer" does the same. Though, Sissi isn't painted to be a saint by any means, she seems to identify more with the patients at a mental hospital she visits often. And questions the fate of these women.

    Depression sinks deep and, for many women who watch, may feel the walls of society closing on them as well. It builds a frustrating tug of life which is as restrictive as the title "Corsage" suggests.

    The production of this project is remarkable. Everyone is in perfect atmosphere for the mood. And is really convincing when transporting us back to the 1800's. It wasn't that long ago (believe it or not).

    History aside, there are a lot of anachronistic ideas that were purposely included. Music and household items sometimes jar you into a more fantasy world. I think it's okay to add these flourishes as I think it nods to the true historians that you must let this go as a inaccurate version of history. What you walk away from is the gist of who she actually was.

    The way of Hungarian/German/Autrian cinema is dry in its humor. It's somewhat dark in its handling of behavior. Sissi seemed to be living in a suicidal existence. Never satisfied, never happy. Observing life as a means to an end. It really portrays that level of depression accurately.

    She is not be liked. Krieps plays Sissi painfully self-destructive. Most of our pity goes to her husband who suffers it, but does so to preserve image.

    That dynamic makes this a fascinating work and I think worth a view.
  • JBLOSS - 10 January 2023
    Vicky Krieps performance is excellent!
    I knew pretty much nothing about the protagonist in this film and I feel those hung up on historical accuracy have completely missed the point. This is a film about a suffocating society, a courtly culture that stifled a clearly very intelligent and emotionally complex woman. The title of the film gives a clear hint of this and we see through the course of the fictional or reimagined series of events the impact it has on Empress Elisabeth. If you're expecting a historical biopic then you'll be disappointed.

    Vicky Krieps is excellent in this, her performance is really so good and it lifts the whole film throughout. I felt coming into watch this with no preconceptions has resulted in enjoying an unusual and refreshing film.
  • goodnews-14916 - 10 January 2023
    language and cast
    Sisi' son's actor is just 9 years younger.

    The ludwig actor same.

    Lots of miscasts.

    Its just like the usual german "vetternwirtschaft" = nepotism.

    But most of all language: she might have a bavarian accent, but no way would the empress speak german 2020 berlin slang or have a speech defect like pronouncing an i like an ü.

    Plus the actress is'n't half as beautiful as the idealised paintings.

    But the worst thing are those abstract modern features.

    A plastic bukett and a telephone.

    Its not abstracting or being artsy its just annoying.

    All in all it is just (german) plump and f**g pretend.

    Its not a movie but the ill-attempt of getting people, you know to get a job

    Turned it off after ten minutes.
  • Bachfeuer - 8 January 2023
    Being an empress is no fairy tale
    It has been many months since I came across a new film as satisfying as this one. The unusual device of seeding a big-budget costume drama with anachronisms to signal that something applicable across time is being communicated does alas lend itself to misunderstanding. It is good enough for this to be merely a vehicle for Ms. Krieps. That being a woman is complicated no matter the time period or the circumstances is enough for a premise.

    To best be able to enjoy Corsage, I recommend finding out as little as possible about its many surprises in advance. But I do recommend finding out about the pertinent history and people, and in particular, to see the old Sissi films with Romy Schneider. This film is intended for German speakers, after all. I can easily imagine the two renditions of Empress Elizabeth as the same personality at different points in her life.

    Hint: the secondary dictionary meaning of "corsage" is intended.
  • eskimgi - 6 January 2023
    Not feminist
    I was confused about what this film wished to achieve. Did it want to depict a rebellious woman? Or a spoiled one? I think the former, going by the reviews, which is worrying...

    Through tropes (e.g. The sad face of a woman laying with her undesirable husband, Sisi taking opium) we know she is unhappy. We hear a lot about how terrible her husband is - but see little of it - he lets Sisi do whatever she wants. She reminds me of my psychologically abusive mother: she leaves when people ask her to have a conversation or give her feedback. She sticks her tongue out when people are trying to help her - a sign she has not gained emotional maturity. The film also glorifies the romantic suicide.

    Of course, you can feel for a woman who all her life has been valued for her beauty and now finds herself ageing, but I'm not sure this is the take we needed.

    Aside from these thoughts, it just wasn't very engaging or insightful. A lot of the dialogue felt stiff or silly, e.g. The reference to air conditioners. There were long takes, typical to these films that try to appeal to Cannes, without reason. Sometimes such takes allow you to digest a scene or feel semantically charged. These didn't. Many scenes existed for no reason at all, or their inclusion felt contrived, for example the footage of the empress with no audio. It's almost like the writer/director saw this footage and thought: 'What did Sisi say? What would Sisi say if we gave her a voice.' The answer, based on this film: not a lot.
  • aherdofbeautifulwildponies - 5 January 2023
    The Straight and Narrow
    Vicky Krieps just might be the biggest name in European cinema right now: 2021 alone saw her star in six productions, under direction of everyone: from M. Night Shyamalan in Old (2021) to Mia Hansen-Løve in Bergman Island (2021) and Mathieu Amalric in Serre moi fort (2021). Her performances have been consistently critically acclaimed, as is bound to be the case with Corsage.

    Focussing on one year - 1878, we are reminded throughout the film - Corsage sets out to tell the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (1837-1898), known as Sissi, although the movie has no use for that nickname. The picture, written and directed by Austrian film-maker Marie Kreutzer, liberally blends fact and fiction: when asked how much of her work was faithful to history, Kreutzer said in an interview that she could not remember exactly. There are elements to the narrative (such as the ending) that are obvious inventions, while the rest is an amalgamation. The result is credible until it isn't; the background images being most at fault - who knew that electric floor lamps were so popular in the Kingdom of Bavaria. (Comparatively, the intentionally anachronistic music choices, like 'As Tears Go By' played on the harp, succeed in appearing an intrinsic part of the narrative.)

    Corsage is very much a story of a person who sees herself as trapped while, possibly, enjoying the most freedom out of everyone we encounter. The visits Elizabeth pays to a psychiatric asylum and to see wounded, bed-ridden soldiers strike as performative, but the choice of her compassionate causes seems rooted in identifying her circumstances with theirs. Why, the empress cannot leave her position either - or can she?

    Corsage is very successful in its depiction of a complex, not entirely sympathetic person. It is quite careless about the tools used to achieve that goal - yet, if you watch the film to its very last bit, the end credits include a scene of Vicky Krieps dancing in an empty gymnasium (the flaking paint is supposed to symbolise the decay of the monarchy). She is mesmerising. She is also wearing a false moustache, as a final reminder from Corsage to not take the production too literally.
  • rustybarkeeper - 3 January 2023
    This star shot her film in the knee
    Watching the commercial between YouTube videos, I became aware of a loose cannon star spending valuable time whining about her corset.

    Number one? Their costumers had to be out for this person. Well made corsets fit. Whoever was driving the corset bus didn't know what they were doing.

    So, all the time they could have demonstrated the emotion and character experiences- they let the star rant.

    If the mute individual next to the star had said: I wrote the character's corset misfit as a metaphor for the character- well that could be a wee bit fascinating. Instead the person looked like she didn't understand a word the woman was saying.

    Will I watch this costume drama? Probably not.
  • ella-48 - 3 January 2023
    Art, not history
    I've noticed a number of reviewers having difficulty with this film on grounds of its historical inaccuracy. I can't speak to any of that. Being myself blissfully ignorant of the relevant history, I was untroubled by such considerations as I settled into my seat at my local Picture House - perfectly happy to take it as Art: a work of speculative fiction, and a somewhat impressionistic one at that.

    Treating it as such, I found it thoroughly engrossing: 1hr 54 well spent, IMO. The central performance by Vicky Krieps is wholly engaging and deliciously subtle, and its portrayal of an intelligent, creative spirit struggling to maintain sanity against a straitjacket (or should that be corset? That's the big metaphor, after all) of patriarchal social convention had me hook, line and sinker, from the opening scene to the (breathtakingly unexpected) final one.

    In the interests of full disclosure might as well mention the two things I was less keen on. Neither of them deal-breakers, but...

    1) In a couple of scenes, characters are heard singing late 20th century pop songs. This practice of inserting anachronistic modern detail into period drama has become a bit of a fad in the last few years, especially, it seems, in German productions (the recent TV series KaDeWe springs to mind as a prime example). My personal feeling is that it's a stylistic quirk that's been done to death and has outlived its welcome. Others may disagree!

    2) One part of the story (we are told by the onscreen captions) takes place in "Northamptonshire". Yeah right. Northamptonshire my ***! Neither the architecture nor the scenery are remotely British. It's blatantly obvious that these scenes were shot, like the rest of the movie, in mainland Europe - most likely southern Germany or Austria. Perhaps the production budget wouldn't stretch to a trip across the channel? Ah well...

    These minor niggles aside, though, I'm glad I went to see this movie. Its imagery will linger in my consciousness a long time. If you're debating whether or not to buy that ticket, I'd say go for it. :)
  • scotrep - 3 January 2023
    Quite dull
    This film was beautifully shot and I enjoyed the aesthetics. The lead actress was entertaining, and sometimes spellbinding. But that's about it.

    It can't even be described as a 'slow burn' as that usually includes some ups and downs, but this really didn't. It was such a steady storytelling that I never felt any highs or lows.

    I was very confused as this was supposed to be 19th century but had elements of 20th century. That distracted me as I didn't get a sense of place or time to try and plug into the story.

    Overall a film that will probably appeal to those more intelligent/informed/interested than I am.
  • vanlorryjf - 30 December 2022
    a dissapointing effort
    I was so looking forward to seeing this take on Sissi.

    Not something that I would watch again, a one trick pony.

    Vicky Krieps is a wonderful actor, her previous work attests to this and she works with the material well, passionate and believable. The rest of the cast are just great and hats off to them for being the bright points in this story.

    The sets were good and the dressing was really cool it was well done cinematography with some pretty scenes, grim scenes and a good characterisation of the times.

    I'm sure the Empress had some tough times but this is relentless in misery, it could have been writ by some certain Duchess? Very few light bits to make the screenplay move and the monikers used were wildly predictable. I get the impression that the people behind this pony have little experience of the human condition and are more interested in their own aims than the complexity and contradictions of dealing with adversity.

    It's good that another 4 productions have been made this year, this may come out as number 5 due to its narrow obsessions.
  • cdcrb - 30 December 2022
    a golden cage
    Vicky krieps is quite wonderful in this fictionalized account of elizabeth of austria. Known for her beauty and tiny waist, she was head strong and very independent. In this film she is those things and much more. Imperious and loving, crude and impassioned. She seems to have a love hate relationship with her husband , emperor franz joseph, from the old school of monarchs. His son, the crown prince, recognizes that the monarchy is on the way out and in real life committed suicide with his mistress. Elizabeth never recovered from that. No such thing happens here, but a version of it does. All the actors are very good, but vicky shines, in an award deserving performance. Although, fictional, this movie is for history buffs as well. The director, marie kruetzer (sp?) provides us with a film without one moment of sentimentality. Very rare. Bravo.
  • zvgndrpqn - 25 December 2022
    It's a must see✨
    I really enjoyed it, such a good movie😍😍 I love beautiful movies. If a film is eye-candy with carefully designed decorations, masterful camerawork, lighting, and architectural frames, I can forgive anything😍😍😍😍😍😍 History might not have allowed Elisabeth the kind of power she wanted, her death in 1898 also bringing her life to a violent close. But Corsage reimagines it all, granting her unexpected agency and, in eventual death, one moment of pure, well-earned freedom.

    Definitely this movie it is a must see for all of us.

    You will enjoy it so much so go and watch it✨ Shhh. The movie is about the start!
  • CinemaSerf - 24 December 2022
    Corsage
    The danger with fictional accounts of the lives of real people, is that it is frequently all to easy to poke holes in the plot. This is one such film that takes just a little too much creative licence with the the life of the Empress Elisabeth (Vicky Krieps). Wife of the famed Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef (Florian Teichtmeister), this film follows a supposed year in the life of this curious historical figure who, having suffered a family tragedy and having a rather estranged relationship with her husband, spends much of her life obsessing with her weight and seeking solitude. Krieps is on good form, she creates a persona for her character that is effective to watch, but the mixture of modern and period scenarios (old buildings with modern fire doors; a cross-channel ferry!) seems anachronistic - to what end? The buildings in which she and her family inhabit have none of the opulence and grandeur of the Hofburg or Prague Castle, indeed the British home of her horse-master "Bay" (Colin Morgan) looks little better that a ramshackle ruin - and this is incongruous with the way we know she lived her life. Reclusive, yes, but still in splendour. It is also a particularly unremarkable year in her life to have chosen to illustrate. Not the previous ones where turbulence within the Imperial family reigned, not the famed "Mayerling" period which was ultimately held responsible for the final decline of this lady. There is also an highly speculative portrayal of her relationship with Bavaria's equally famous King Ludwig II (Manuel Rubey). The denouement itself is presented here in a rather too bizarre fashion that rather topped off this interesting but frankly flat and pace-less drama that offers us a glimpse of this intriguing woman, but little more of substance. Pity.
  • ChatGPT - 23 December 2022
    A Stunning Exploration of Beauty, Power, and Constraints
    A beautifully shot and elegiac film that explores the life of Empress Elisabeth of Austria as she navigates the expectations of her culture and her own desires. Vicky Krieps gives a layered and nuanced performance as Elisabeth, and the metaphor of the corset effectively symbolizes the constrictions of her privileged but powerless life. While the film is unabashedly fictionalized, it effectively captures the internal struggles of a woman who is constantly told what to do and who grapples with the fear of losing her beauty and power as she ages. The sumptuous settings and contemporary songs add to the overall atmosphere of the film, which is both poignant and thought-provoking. Overall, "Corsage" is a worthwhile watch for fans of historical dramas and those interested in exploring themes of beauty, power, and the constraints of societal expectations.