In Corsage, we first encounter Empress Elisabeth of Austria in Vienna while she’s holding her breath underwater. It’s a neat summation of the film that follows, in that Elisabeth (Vicky Krieps) behaves in an unexpected, idiosyncratic fashion, restrained by external forces (and that’s before you even get to her suffocatingly tight bodice, the physical and metaphorical titular garment).
When we first meet her, Elisabeth is restless. It’s the eve of her 40th birthday, and her husband Emperor Franz Joseph (Florian Teichtmeister) is busy ruling the dual monarchy of Austria and Hungary, with her interest or influence in matters of national importance moot. This royal is depicted as something of a rebel: visiting friends and former lovers in Northamptonshire and Bavaria while living an unfulfilled life in grand rooms and stifling banquet halls. She mixes with who she wants, to the chagrin of her adult son Rudolf (Aaron Friesz). Her only unbridled freedom comes while horse-riding, though even this is curtailed when her favourite horse is killed after she has an accident. Eventually, heroin provides another escape and Elisabeth takes control of her life with the help of her devoted ladies-in-waiting.
Deliberately anachronistic flourishes such as modern plug sockets and a plastic mop-and-bucket accentuate writer-director Marie Kreutzer’s vision of Elisabeth as being very different from the real-life historical figure. Songs from French singer Camille and versions of ’60s hits such as Marianne Faithfull’s ‘As Tears Go By’ augment this, recalling Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006), though Elisabeth cuts a figure more akin to Princess Diana in Spencer (2021). In German with English sub-titles.
Doors and bar open
7:00pm (drinks are not allowed in the auditorium)
- Vicky Krieps
- Florian Techtmeister
- Katharina Lorenz
- Colin Morgan
- Jeanne Werner
- Alma Hasun
- Manuel Rubey
- Finnegan Oldfield
2022. 114 Mins. 12A. In German with English sub-titles