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Corsage is a good—but perhaps unnecessary—film

This article is over 1 years, 3 months old
There’s nothing really wrong with Corsage—it just feels as if it’s a well-worn story, writes Sophie Squire
Issue 2836
Vicky Krieps, as empress Elisabeth, stands with a cigarette in holder, in a still from the film Corsage

Vicky Krieps as Elizabeth in Corsage

Corsage is an intriguing and well-crafted film that, despite everything, feels unnecessary. The film is yet another on screen depiction of empress Elisabeth of Austria, or Sisi. This time she is played by Vicky Krieps.

It attempts to grant us a new perspective on the royal by imagining her life as she reaches her fortieth birthday. The pressures to stay young and beautiful cause constant anguish for the empress.

She starves herself and does vigorous exercise, all to maintain the perfect outer appearance. But Elisabeth is filled with discontent with her position as an ornament to society, with no power or control over her life.

The film captures well the kind of sexism that ruling class women of that period must have suffered. Kreutzer says the way Elisabeth was body shamed in her time is very similar to how celebrity women are today.

There is nothing really wrong with this film. It’s beautifully shot, has a great soundtrack, and Krieps is excellent.

The problem with Corsage is that it feels like a story that has been told way too many times. Some critics have said it is refreshing, but it feels like well-trodden territory.

Films about ruling class women who are discontented with their position in society as individuals are common in media more broadly. And Corsage is just another in a long list of them.

In an effort to make the audience sympathise with the empress, Elisabeth is depicted as rebellious and a woman ahead of her time. But despite all the film’s efforts, it’s tough to care about this character.

The problem with this film is not that it’s poorly written or badly made. It’s just that you find yourself wishing it was about someone else.

  • Corsage is in cinemas from 26 December

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