When preparing to watch Corsage, I knew I better be ready for historical value. Unfortunately, much of what could have been valuable is frivolous due to a lack of characterization in particular fragments of the film. Corsage is attention-grabbing and even has moments which are spellbinding. The film is also vivid in its presentation of the late 1800s era in Europe. Because the film is based on real events, it suffers from some inaccuracies. Corsage hits a brick wall during scenes that are too complex to interpret. Writer and director Maria Kreutze, tries to stay on point, but even staying on point does not make Corsage a masterpiece. In fact, the film requires a strong attention span with plenty of patience.
Corsage focuses on Empress Elisabeth, played by Vicky Krieps. The year is 1877 in Austria. It is Elizabeth’s 40th birthday and many around her start to refer to her as elderly. With a rich life, critical attention, and her own frustration, Elisabeth becomes determined to prove that she is stronger than many view her. In addition, she is involved in plenty of conflicts with her family and others. Her level of prestige has raised a lot of eyebrows and spurred controversy. However, due to being powerful since the age of 16, she has been able to maintain her level of authority. The film explores questions of her power, authority and wealth. Krieps’ performance is strong and filled with emotion. Her portrayal of Elisabeth’s identity study is where the film will enthrall its audience.
Again, the film is based on real events, but some of the information is fictional. Therefore, I watched this film with an understanding that if certain moments did not add up, it was because the writing failed to effectively juggle fact and fiction. The director focuses on the frustrations in Krieps’ performance more than anything else. Some of the main character’s issues may lead to irreparable consequences as the journey gets dangerously close to destruction. Corsage makes the point that Elisabeth wants her life to change, and it does so by illustrating her choices and through the way she voices her opinions and demonstrates her strength throughout the film.
Where Corsage adds fuel to the fire is in its depiction of the family around Elisabeth. The family appears to be ungrateful. She is an empress with disrespectful people in her life. Corsage shows Elisabeth to be volatile and also reluctant. She struggles to speak up and if she gets vocal, heads roll. Corsage succeeds by showing authority and personality development that is unparalleled.
With all the peril and annoyances in Corsage, I found the historical and political sides intriguing. Elisabeth’s suffering is compounded because she always felt obligated to tolerate issues that bothered her. There are times in the film where one senses a change is possible given the political conflicts. Will Elisabeth be able to improve her situation? Find out in Corsage. Two and a half stars.