Christmas, 1877. Empress Elizabeth of Austria (Vicky Krieps) is turning 40. Renowned for her beauty, she undertakes daily privations to ensure she fits her wasp-waist corset and keeps her picture-perfect looks. Suffocating in the stuffy Hapsburg court, she finds herself incapable of continuing to conform to the decorative role that is expected of her, instead carrying out desperate acts of rebellion. With echoes of Spencer and Marie Antoinette, Kreutzer delivers a refreshing take on one woman’s emancipation. Taking liberties with history and adding some fabulous anachronisms (including an evocative soundtrack by Camille), Corsage finds a perfect balance between melancholy understatement and a liberating punkish attitude. Krieps is sublime, the depth and nuances of her performance underpinning her character’s complexity. (It won her the Best Actress award in Un Certain Regard at Cannes.) The Empress doesn’t care about being likeable and Krieps interprets her eccentricity and impulsiveness with great verve.
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