Corsage (2022)

Krieps royally funny in risque ‘Corsage’

Since her breakout performance in P.T. Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” filmmakers haven’t quite figured out how to fully utilize Vicky Krieps. At least not until writer-director Marie Kreutzer came along with “Corsage,” a delicious offering in which Krieps excels as the beleaguered, sex-starved Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

It’s set mainly in 1778 on the occasion of her highness’ 40th birthday. Like a lot of us reaching this milestone, the empress is experiencing a royal midlife crisis and is unabashedly unafraid to show it. The menfolk, including her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph (Florian Teichtmeister), and stuffy teenage son are none too pleased with her public displays of affection for other men, none of whom seem to want to indulge the lovely lady.

And therein resides the essence of “Corsage” (the French term for corset), a flirty, modernistic essay on the standards to which women of all ages and cultures are expected to conform. In this case, an implicit expectation that Sisi, as she likes to be called, maintain a perfect hourglass figure at all costs. She is tired of the self-restraint and depriving herself of anything more caloric than water and orange slices.

Krieps confidently evokes Kreutzer’s feminist point of view with aplomb and a sly bit of humor. Kreutzer accentuates the recalcitrance by her refusal to adhere to biopic norms. Among her deviations, the choice to integrate 20th-century tunes such as “As Tears Go By” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.”

It’s a lot of fun … until it comes to the ending, which veers wildly from historical fact. But it proves far more suitable in the context of Sisi’s being fed up with being bound up. It literally requires a leap by both Krieps and Kreutzer. And both nail the landing.

Movie review


Rated: R for language and sexual situations

Cast: Vicky Krieps and Florian Teichtmeister

Director: Marie Kreutzer

Writer: Marie Kreutzer

Runtime: 113 minutes

Grade: B+

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