Set in Vienna in 1877, Corsage tells the story of Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) as she celebrates her 40th birthday with her husband Emperor Franz Joseph (Florian Teichtmeister). Elisabeth lives a life of luxury, yet there is an ache in her soul. Feeling imprisoned in an loveless relationship, she goes largely ignored by her husband. What’s more, as rumours and whispers emerge, her reputation becomes sullied by quiet accusations of infidelity. As she moves to Bavaria to find a new beginning, she quickly discovers that, even in a new location, she will never be free.
Written and directed by Vicky Kreutzer, Corsage is the true story of one woman’s fight for strength at a time of oppression. At the hands of toxic, masculine power, Elisabeth’s life was one of tragedy as she was forced to take on a role that was far beneath her. As the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph, her place was meant to be one dominated by male power. In the same way that her bodice around her is gradually tightened, so too is Elisabeth become increasingly strangled within her own home.
With a deep frustration and an inner rage, Krieps portrays Elisabeth as a woman on the edge. Krieps imbues the Queen with a claustrophic strength that is waiting for the opportunity to explode at any moment. Through her performance, the viewer understands that Elisabeth was a woman of strength who is willing to do whatever it takes to experience life yet remains without room to breathe. Questions of sexuality, indiscretion and speaking out of turn hang over her head, leaving her in the crosshairs of others in the regime.
Yet she continues to kick at the darkness.
Corsage premiered at TIFF ’22. For more information, click here.