Corsage Review – Captivating Character Driven Performances, A Must See

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Corsage, from IFC Films, presents the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, once admired for her incomparable beauty, is slowly suffocated by middle age and battles depression, longs for freedom, and passion in a world of restrictions.

The film begins with a morning dressing routine. The chambermaids attending Elizabeth, Empress of Austria, played by Vicky Krieps, are tightening her corset, a restrictive undergarment which is designed to create a slimmer appearance. The ladies pull the laces and are dismissed when they lack the upper body strength, as the corset is pulled, tight, then tighter. This is followed by the waistline measurements and a recording of her weight.

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We see throughout the film she is so determined to escape the boundaries of this life she designs her life around behaviors that, are so regulated, that even on her 40th birthday, in a celebration attended by many she refuses to partake in anything other than conversation. Throughout, she regulates herself to thin slices of oranges, and is slowly starving herself to escape the onset of age while she tries to recapture her zest for life.

When she escapes to the countryside, she rides with abandonment, endangering her own life and the life of the steed. Starved for love, affection, intellectual stimulation, fun and food, she teases relationships with others, her riding instructor, Bay, played by Colin Morgan, whom she toys with for his devotion, her cousin, Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, played by Manuel Rubey, who is fun-loving and allows her to relax and indulge in activities unbefitting royalty, and even forces her to enjoy the pleasure of chocolate, and even an unknown entrepreneur who invents a camera which produces moving images and calls on her to test his invention.

At each meeting of foreign heads of state, comments are openly made about her weight, appearance, and once fair beauty, she matches these comments with faux fainting spells, and other acts of rebellion.

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When she finally asks her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, played by Florian Teichtmeister, who must ring the bell outside her room if he wants to enter for any reason, about state issues, he explains quite clearly her position is to appeal to the people, in a dignified and stately manor, nothing else.

Her visits to wounded soldiers are chastised by her daughter, as she shares a cigarette with a dying man, and even lies beside him; her son, Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria, played by Aaron Friesz, explains her behaviors are an embarrassment.

Fighting the restrictions of the position, she smokes openly, intentionally disrupts events, until her husband suggests she see a doctor who prescribes a “mild-non-addictive” new drug, heroin, which will calm her and provide the sedation she needs.

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Each day the routine of squeezing herself, to death, into this constrictive garment, for duty and the pleasure of the people, becomes a slow strangulation of life. She finds as she becomes addicted, there may be an escape after all.

The corset, throughout the film represents the confines of her position, and has constricted her so tightly that she is unable to breathe, which extends into the life she is forced to lead as the Empress. She is suffocating and trapped in the prison of her life and is determined to break the shackles that are holding her from freedom.

Corsage is a must see. The film, driven by hypnotizing, dramatic, and courageous performances perfectly parallel many lives where boundaries and restrictions choke the life from them and duty is erased in one defiant act.

Captivating audiences throughout the world Corsage is Austria’s official selection for international feature film for the 95th academy awards ® and has been shortlisted for the Academy Award nomination.

Playing in select cities, Corsage, will be available on streaming platforms beginning in February 2023. See it.


Country: Austria.

Language: German, French, English, Hungarian with English subtitles.

Runtime: 113 minutes.

Director: Marie Kreutzer.

Producers: Alexander Glehr, Johanna Scherz, Bernard Michaux, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski, Maren Ade, Jean-Christophe Reymond.

Writer: Marie Kreutzer.

Cast: Vicky Krieps, Colin Morgan, Finnegan Oldfield, Katharina Lorenz, Alma Hasun, Florian Teichtmeister, Jeanne Werner, Manuel Rubey, Aaron Friesz, Rosa Hajjaj, Lilly Marie Tschortner.

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