Set in Vienna, Austria, in December 1877, Corsage follows Elisabeth (Vicky Krieps), the Empress of Austria. On Christmas Eve, Elisabeth celebrates her birthday. The birthday celebration is large, and family and friends join her for the big event. However, this birthday means something different for Elisabeth as she turns forty.
While Elisabeth was once praised for her looks and beauty, after her birthday, she is suddenly surrounded by harsh judgment, with some stating she is now just an old woman. Not only are people commenting on her appearance, but they begin to speak about her weight and the way she breathes. Elisabeth herself accepts that turning forty means a person begins to disperse and fade, darkening like a cloud. Attempting to keep a straight path and maintain the public role as Empress, Elisabeth starts to be impacted by those around her, making choices she wouldn’t usually make, including getting a little too close to a horse riding instructor.
Corsage is somewhat of a dramatic biography as it focuses on a historical figure; however, not everything in Corsage is factual. Instead, this serves more of a fictional account over one year, starting on the Christmas Eve of 1877. It’s touching to see a moment in Elisabeth‘s life where nothing but perfection surrounds her after her birthday celebrations before everything around her instantly changes. The pressure of maintaining her title and image is a fascinating yet saddening concept to see.
Actress Vicky Krieps as Empress Elisabeth is a significant highlight here. The actress is compelling and confident and portrays various emotions and frustrations throughout the film. As audiences, it’s impossible not to feel a form of compassion or sympathy as we see her character take a dramatic turn as the film progresses. The visuals, including filming locations, are pleasing and welcoming to witness. The music score by Camille is impacting and fitting, utilising instruments such as the cello and piano, as well as emotional and impactful vocals.
As for negatives, the film has several moments that felt slightly slower than I preferred. That being said, I also found the final twenty minutes rushed at a much faster pace, eager to get to the finish line. The storyline is extremly predictable rather than being hard-hitting and dramatic like the film intended.
Overall, those who take joy in dramatic period films will find plenty of glee here. While serving as a biography, Corsage is more of a fictional story over one year. The lead performance from Vicky Krieps as Empress Elisabeth is a sight to see, and she brings a stunning performance with many emotions and drama to life. The film contains great locations, pleasant visuals and a musical score that felt touching and highly fitting. The biggest letdown here is the slow pacing at various points of the film, with an ending that feels rushed and less impactful than ideal. Corsage (2022) is Available in Australian Cinemas from February 9th!