‘Corsage’ assessment: Vicky Krieps is magnetic

A playful elegy for a reluctant royal, writer-director Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage” — starring a magnetic Vicky Krieps because the nineteenth century Empress Elisabeth of Austria — is a costumed interval portrait free of the corset strings of historical past’s extra idolizing glare, even because it depicts precisely what all that tightening, pulling and image-handling does to a girl’s sense of private freedom.

The Princess Diana of her day, swept into stardom by a lavish marriage and subsumed by an unforgiving monarchy’s guidelines and duties, Elisabeth sought to fulfill the calls for of her period’s fashion-trending expectations with a rigorous magnificence routine that concerned common train, a punishing weight-reduction plan (broth and oranges), and sustaining a 19.5-inch waist. But she was additionally a shiny, devoted proponent of society’s human progress, from technical and cultural developments to the remedy of an unstable empire’s war-wounded and mentally in poor health. With so fragile a temperament, nonetheless, one can guess which sense of function received out, and along side some horrible tragedies, all however confined her to a lifetime of psychological decline.

Within the standard creativeness of Europe, nonetheless, Elisabeth is primarily a fairy-tale determine, most notably depicted as such within the colorfully romantic Austrian “Sissi” movies of the Nineteen Fifties that catapulted a younger Romy Schneider to marquee fame and Christmas-viewing immortality. The Elisabeth of “Corsage” is a spiky corrective, nonetheless, introducing us to a vinegary sovereign bored by ceremony and pushed to distraction, her fortieth birthday dramatized as a near-solemn event sparking her to muse on how at 40 an individual begins to “disperse and fade, darkening like a cloud.”

Her wiry scold of a husband Emperor Franz Joseph (an imperious Florian Teichtmeister) ignores her intelligence, treating her like a unpleasant youngster, whereas her teenage son Prince Rudolf (Aaron Friesz) and stiffly poised youthful daughter Valerie (Rosa Hajjaj) eye her judgmentally, as if their identities have already been swallowed up by monarchical propriety. That leaves Elisabeth turning as a substitute to driving excursions, impromptu journeys, trusted ladies-in-waiting, and longtime companions (together with her cousin King Ludwig II of Bavaria) for amusement and resolve. However even rekindling an affair with an English driving teacher (Colin Morgan) is a self-defeating bid for pleasure when their notions of want don’t mesh (it stops for her at his admiring gaze), leaving worry of recrimination from her household to do the mood-souring relaxation.

When what she can management about her life and physique takes over, “Corsage” segues right into a paradoxically prickly and stylish unhappiness wholly its personal, bolstered by cinematographer Judith Kaufmann’s intimately chilly palette. And as Kreutzer confirmed along with her final movie, the knockout psychodrama “The Ground Beneath My Feet,” the Austrian filmmaker is brilliantly adept in her compositions and tone at conveying the cracking of a rigorously held composure.

Her biggest asset, nonetheless, is Krieps, a greater than worthy co-conspirator in bringing to life a caged showpiece earlier than carving an artfully fictionalized escape plan from her gilded body. A swanlike, silent-era-like presence with a significant attract, Krieps is quick proving to be a film treasure (she was additionally nice on this yr’s French drama “Hold Me Tight”), and right here the “Phantom Thread” star performs Elisabeth as if preternaturally conscious of the maw of historical past because it pertains to female and male legacy, a contemporary lady trapped in a toxic time-travel fantasy however refusing to provide in with out swish defiance.

To that temporally fluid finish, Kreutzer has additionally seeded the movie with historic innovations and anachronistic touches of deadpan insouciance, like suspiciously inauthentic clothes and places (you’ll be able to spot a wall phone), and in two music-filled scenes, chamber performances of Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” and the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By.” The well-layered rating is additional augmented by splendidly resonant, bracketing music picks (of the non-diegetic sort) from Camille and Cleaning soap&Pores and skin, whose “Italy” provides anthemic heft to the stirringly conceived closing sequence.

Total, “Corsage” reveals a tantalizing manner ahead for the hopelessly staid biopic style: honoring, frightening and upending with verve and humor because it liberates a posh lady from iconography’s deadening glamour.


Not rated

In German, French and English with English subtitles

Working time: 1 hour, 54 minutes

Taking part in: Begins Dec. 30, Laemmle Royal, West L.A.